Keeping up with all the impactful MLB international signings has become a vital part when it comes to being a great fantasy baseball owner. This offseason has been very interesting with several trades and free agent signings around the league. Some of those signings have been international players who have the potential to turn into everyday fixtures in the Show and on your fantasy squad. Let’s introduce you to the newest wave of global talent to hit the states in 2015.
2015 Fantasy Baseball International Players
Rusney Castillo, Bos OF
The Red Sox have a handful of serviceable outfielders, but Castillo figures to get plenty of at-bats in his first, full season in the Majors. The Cuban defector signed a seven-year pact with Boston last August and the deal is worth up to $72.5 million if he doesn’t opt out in 2020. That is a lot of money to commit to a 27-year-old without Big League experience, but many scouts think his game will fit in nicely with the game’s best players.
Castillo will need to beat out Mookie Betts as the Opening Day center fielder and a strained oblique is standing in the way. We got a sneak peak over 10 games towards the end of last season when he went 12-for-36 (.333) with a pair of home runs and three stolen bases. Boston’s international signing has big potential to hit for average and power while swiping his fair share of bags with enough playing time.
Yasmany Tomas, Ari 3B/OF
At just 24-years-old, Arizona signed this right-handed slugger to a six-year deal that could be worth up to $68.5 million if he doesn’t opt out after the fourth year. This kid comes with serious power according to scouts, while being ‘average’ in just about every area including his fielding. Tomas can play some third base and corner outfield where most of his time figures to be spent.
The youngster went 0-for-11 to start spring training and could start the season in the minors to build confidence. Tomas will hit some home runs, but expect him to whiff at an even greater clip as he adjusts to Big League pitching. He has potential to be a long-term producer with time, making him highly valuable in keeper/dynasty leagues.
Hector Olivera, 2B/3B
The 29-year-old is still a free agent on the open market with a number teams reportedly vying for his services including the Dodgers, Braves, Padres and Marlins as the front runners. Olivera comes to the Big Leagues with the ability to play for second and third base both consistently well. His approach at the plate was applauded by scouts in his showcase in the Dominican Republic in January.
Fantasy owners who draft Olivera will get a polished hitter who hits the ball hard to all fields with a knack for making consistent contact. He is capable of hitting for average and has some pop, although he probably won’t hit more than 10-15 home runs over a 162-game season. This Cuban ballplayer could be one of the bigger sleepers in 2015 fantasy drafts.
Raisel Iglesias, Cin SP/RP
The early indication is that Iglesias will be used as a starter in Cincinatti after being used as a reliever in Cuba. Iglesias walked a pair and threw a couple wild pitches while allowing two unearned runs in his spring training debut. The 25-year-old signed a seven-year contract worth a guarantee of $27 million and the option to enter arbitration if eligible.
Fantasy owners are getting a guy with a live arm and who can normally command a total of four pitches. Iglesias’ fastball sits in the mid-90s consistently and he also features a swing-and-miss curveball from different arm angles. His value goes considerably up as a solid starter rather than in the bullpen with fellow Cuban Aroldis Chapman already entrenched as the Reds’ closer.
Jung-Ho Kang, Pit SS/3B
It is unclear as to how often and where Kang will be used by the Pirates, but the 27-year-old has plenty of skill and versatility. He launched a long ball in his second at-bat of the spring after mashing 40 in the Korea Baseball Organization last year. The Pirates have Jordy Mercer currently manning shortstop, but that could change quickly if Kang proves himself this month.
Pittsburgh may have gotten a steal in signing Kang over four years, for $11 million, with a team option for a fifth year for another $5.5 million. He can also play third base and figures to get plenty of chances early in the season. Don’t be surprised if he hits .280 or higher with 15-20 home runs.
Yoan Moncada, Bos SS
You won’t see the young phenom play for the Red Sox this year and not until the end of the 2016 season if all goes as planned. Boston will give Moncada, who is only 19-years-old, a $31.5 million signing bonus and will pay a full 100 percent overage tax because they exceeded their international bonus pool. So in total, the switch-hitting prospect cost $63 million for a minor league deal.
Fantasy owners in keeper and dynasty leagues will want to draft or add Moncada like he’s the next Robinson Cano, like many scouts have compared him to. The youngster has more upside than any guy on this list and could be a perennial All-Star for 10-plus years with his outstanding hitting ability for average and power. He also has great speed and the instinct to swipe bags regularly. Xander Bogaerts figures to be the long-term answer at shortstop for the Red Sox with Moncada playing either second or third base.