According to Ben Badler of Baseball America, the St. Louis Cardinals have signed 17-year-old pitcher Andres Serrano for $750,000. The deal marks the Cardinals' continued foray in Dominican Republic pitchers, as two of their top prospects -- RHP Carlos Martinez and RF Oscar Taveras -- also hail of Hispaniola's Spanish-speaking half. According to Badler, both Taveras and Martinez were also recruited out of the same region as the recently-signed Serrano.
The deal is pending the MLB's review of the player's age and identity -- a problem that has plagued many Latin American signings -- but should be finalized soon. The 2012 off-season has been somewhat unusual in many respects as the newest collective bargaining agreement will soon kick in penalties for excessive international signings, resulting in somewhat of a price war among certain teams and prospects to collect as much talent before the new rules take effect.
Badler reports Serrano's $750,000 is the most yet-spent on a Dominican Republic free agent (though that may technically change when Cuban-defector Yoenis Cespedes signs), but there have been four other Latin American free agents signed to deals of $800,000 or more this offseason.