Could the drama involving Lazaro "Lazarito" Armenteros be coming to an end soon? It appears as if his suitors have been narrowed down to the San Diego Padres, Los Angeles Dodgers and Atlanta Braves.
Armenteros, a 16-year-old Cuban prospect, has been garnering interest from many MLB teams as he hopes to sign soon after being declared a free agent in January. He's expected to land a signing bonus between $15-$20 million, which will certainly play a factor in terms of who will pursue him.
"The Padres are now the favorites to sign Armenteros, though the Braves and Dodgers have also been connected to him as well," writes Ben Badler of Baseball America, who has the most recent scoop on Lazarito.
It was also recently reported that the Philadelphia Phillies are no longer pursuing the youngster as they prepare to utilize their international pool money once the new signing period is set to begin on July 2 (they have the biggest pool in the MLB thanks to their 2015 record).
However, much of the recent talk about Lazarito has dealt with his representation. Charles Hairston of Culture39 told FOX Sports last month that he dropped the Cuban prospect because he received a death threat from the youngster's "buscon," or investor/trainer/agent, in the Dominican Republic. As a result, Armenteros switched to Octagon as his new representation. Typically, the buscon gets a percentage of the player's contract in exchange for training, housing and other resources.
Whatever the case, Lazarito's combination of size, speed and power is making him an extremely attractive target this offseason (or this summer, depending on if he waits to sign during the new international signing period).
One thing we know for sure is that the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Tampa Bay Rays, Los Angeles and Angels Arizona Diamondbacks are not permitted to sign Armenteros because they exceeded their bonus pools during last year's signing period, which means that they won't be able to sign an international free agent for more than $300,000 until either the new signing period or the one after.
The Dodgers, Chicago Cubs, Kansas City Royals and San Francisco Giants are eligible to sign him, but they will have to pay a dollar-for-dollar tax on whatever they pay him since they've already exceeded their pools during the current signing period.
Stay tuned for updates on Armenteros, as his decision could come soon.