Cards jump into international signing period

St. Louis finalizes deals with Boston, Toronto

ST. LOUIS -- Baseball's international signing period opened on Sunday with the Cardinals not only starting to spend their allotted bonus pool, but also trading some of that cap space away for other players.

The Cardinals finalized such deals with the Red Sox and Blue Jays, and, in return, landed infielder Stanley Espinal, infielder Imeldo Diaz and outfielder Lane Thomas. All are low-level Minor League players.

Because the organization exceeded spending limits in the last international signing period, the Cardinals cannot offer signing bonuses of more than $300,000 to any international prospect over the next year. That will keep them from being able to pursue top talent, but not all of it.

One of the first players the Cardinals signed on Sunday was Dominican outfielder Diowil Burgos. He received the maximum $300,000 bonus, according to's Jesse Sanchez. The club is expected to announce more than a half dozen additional signings on Monday.

The Cardinals have been allotted $5.75 million to spend in the international market from now until next June 15. But because they'd have to spend that in such small increments, the Cardinals chose to be creative in how they utilized some of that pool.

"We decided that we would see what the market was with other teams who weren't capped out and we felt like we got better than what we could do if we just sort of threw money into Latin America," general manager Michael Girsch said. "We found out who was interested and then found players we liked a lot."

Clubs are permitted to trade as much of its international pool money as it would like, though there is a limit (75 percent of a team's initial pool) to how much one team can acquire. The Cardinals may trade additional pool money in the coming months, Girsch said.

Espinal, 20, and Diaz, 19, were both originally signed by Boston as international free agents. Espinal, who opened this year in the short-season New York Penn League, has hit .251/.305/.377 in 132 career games. The Dominican native has played almost exclusively at third base.

Diaz, a shortstop, also began this season playing in the NYPL. Diaz has hit .222/.279/.258 in 123 Minor League games and was signed out of Venezuela on this date in 2014.

Thomas, 21, was drafted by the Blues Jays in the fifth round of the 2014 MLB Draft. He played in 73 games for Class A Advanced Dunedin (Fla.) this season and hit .252/.319/.383. Thomas is a right-handed hitting center fielder.

Worth Noting

• The Cardinals announced that they have agreed to terms with their eighth-round pick, Wilberto Rivera. Rivera was the last remaining unsigned player taken by the Cardinals in the first 17 rounds of the MLB Draft. The 6-foot-3, 207-pound pitcher will be forgoing a college commitment to Florida International University.

• Triple-A Memphis notched its 50th win in its 81st game on Saturday, making this Redbirds team the quickest to 50 wins in franchise history. Carson Kelly, Wilfredo Tovar and Jose Adolis Garcia all homered in the victory. Shortstop Aledmys Diaz had two doubles in his first game since being optioned by the Cardinals on Wednesday.

Kolten Wong (right triceps strain) spent some time on the field in pregame making throws from second base to first. Wong is not expected to return until after the All-Star break, but he has resumed baseball activities without issue since receiving a cortisone injection on Tuesday.

Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Follow her on Twitter, and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.