- Enrique Rojas, ESPNdeportes
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ORLANDO, Fla. -- The Texas Rangers and Cincinnati Reds have joined the Oakland Athletics in a bidding feud for the services of Dominican pitching prospect Michael Inoa, the crown jewel of the pool of Latin American players who will be available to be signed July 2, a source has told ESPNdeportes.com.
"Oakland has led the pack of teams interested in Inoa, but both Cincinnati and Texas have surged in the past few days, and it is now a three-horse race of big favorites to grab this kid," the source said.
"Some teams have offered him a major league contract in order to make the offer even more attractive, but Inoa's team is not interested in that. The battle may be fought until the last minutes," the source added.
July 2 marks the beginning of the eligibility period for players who turn 17 years old after Sept. 6, though they won't be able to play until next year. Players 17 or older may sign anytime.
Inoa, 16, at 6 feet 7 and 210 pounds, is a right-hander with a repertoire consisting of a 93-mph fastball, a changeup and a curveball.
The young prospect has been evaluated by every major league organization. General manager Billy Beane and a group of Oakland executives even traveled to Dominican Republic to evaluate Inoa.
According to data obtained by ESPNdeportes.com, at least seven teams were ready to give Inoa a bonus of more than $3 million, but many of them, including the New York Yankees, pulled out of the race as the price for the young ace went up.
Enrique Rojas covers Major League Baseball for ESPNDeportes.com.