This offseason has been rough on the San Diego Padres as they have had to navigate the death of their owner and the need to cut payroll after their colossally disappointing 2023 season. No one could have imagined that the Padres would need to trade away Juan Soto this offseason, but here we are. However, San Diego fans got some good news today with the opening of international free agency.
The Padres have done really well for themselves on the international market in recent years. Top prospect Ethan Salas is the best example as San Diego signed him for $5.6 million last January and he has already established himself as one of the best prospects in all of baseball.
Going into this international free agency period, the Padres find themselves with a $4,652,200 international bonus pool. Many teams choose to spread their bonus pool around to multiple good players and shy away from investing too heavily in one guy. However, Dominican shortstop Leo De Vries was too big of a talent for the Padres to pass up and they inked him to a huge IFA deal on the opening day of international free agency.
The Padres sign Leo De Vries to huge IFA deal due to his unbelievable ceiling
While Leo De Vries isn't getting the biggest bonus in this year's free agent crop at $4.2 million (that honor goes to Venezuelan shortstop Jose Perdomo), it is awfully close and will require most of San Diego's bonus pool to bring into the fold. There is certainly some risk in going all in on a guy, but the above Salas example is proof that it is often worth it to pay for the top international talent if given the opportunity.
De Vries is a 17 year old shortstop out of the Dominican Republic is considered by many to be the best player in this IFA class even if he isn't getting the top bonus in the class. He has room to grow into his 6'1, 185 pound frame and already possesses a great approach at the plate and a knack for putting the barrel on the ball. There is some debate as to whether or not he will be able to stick at shortstop given that he isn't particularly quick and his arm isn't overly strong. However, his bat should be able to play anywhere if everything breaks right.
We shall see if this deal works out as well as Ethan Salas or the slew of other international free agents that have gone on to be stars in MLB. Nothing is certain with guys this young, but it is clear that De Vries has the talent to be a big piece of the Padres' future.