Sunday marked the new signing period for eligible international free agents, and the Toronto Blue Jays came away with one of the best available hitters on the market.
In total, the Blue Jays signed five players — four position players and one pitcher — with outfielder Enmanuel Bonilla as their most notable acquisition. The 16-year-old corner outfielder signed for $4.1 million, the largest bonus in franchise history.
Toronto featured $5.284 million in international spending this winter, allocating 77.6 percent of that pool to Bonilla. That limited the organization’s ability to spend resources elsewhere, although they haven’t shied anyway from putting all their eggs in one basket in previous years.
The Blue Jays were penalized for surpassing their bonus pool after signing Vladimir Guerrero Jr. to a $3.9 million deal in 2015, meaning they couldn’t sign any player for more than $300,000 during the 2016 signing period. But it’s safe to say that move worked out pretty well.
Bonilla’s bonus also exceeds the amount given to Adeiny Hechavarria ($4 million in 2010) and Orelvis Martinez ($3.5 million in 2018), making him one of the most prolific international free-agent signings in franchise history.
The right-hander is regarded as one of the top prospects in this year’s class, ranked No. 4 by Baseball America and No. 7 on MLB Pipeline's top 50 list. Most scouts believe the young slugger has a bright future, offensively and defensively.
At 6-foot-1, 190-pounds, Bonilla features “high-end bat speed and the ability to drive the ball with impact, giving him a chance to be a 25-plus home run threat,” an expert from Baseball America said. MLB Pipeline also graded him with “good instincts with a solid arm,” believing he has what it takes to be an impact defender.
It shouldn’t take Bonilla very long to make waves throughout the Blue Jays organization, especially considering how much hard contact his bat generates.
Amid the Blue Jays’ current competitive cycle, developing as many standout players as possible through the international market will be crucial, as they’ll likely be selecting in the bottom third of the MLB Draft for several seasons.
Bonilla is not related to former MLB All-Star Bobby Bonilla.
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