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Braves 'planning to blitz' the international free agent market in 2016, per report

This should excite everyone.

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The Braves have gone about their rebuild the right way -- by stocking up on young talent through trades and the draft. They have also hit the international free agent market somewhat, signing Derian Cruz for $2 million, Cristian Pache for $1.4 million, and others.

According to a report from Ben Badler of Baseball America, the Braves are going to spend big on international free agents in 2016-2017. This should excite everyone considering some of the talent up for grabs this summer. From Badler:

The Braves are planning to blitz the 2016-17 international amateur market with spending on par with what the Yankees did during the 2014-15 signing period when they signed 10 of Baseball America's Top 30 international prospects for July 2 and spent around $17 million in signing bonuses. [...]

Excluding any Cuban players they might sign (and those players would have to wait until July 2 to sign, so the Braves can stick with their 2016-17 spending plan), the Braves will probably end up spending a similar amount of money this year on 16-year-old Latin American prospects.

The crown jewel of Atlanta's targets is Venezuelan shortstop Kevin Maitan, perhaps the best 16-year-old July 2 prospect since Miguel Sano signed with the Twins for $3.15 million in 2009. Where Maitan ends up in the field remains to be seen, but several veteran evaluators have called Maitan a special talent at the head of the class because of his offensive ability. [...]

It was reported months ago that the Braves have a handshake agreement in place with Maitan, even if it's against the rules. Maitan has drawn comparisons to a young Miguel Cabrera. No pressure, kid.

Badler also mentions the Braves will target Venezuelan catcher Abrahan Gutierrez and Dominican shortstop Yunior Severino.

These prospects would have a long (long, long) way to go before seeing Atlanta, but they will only provide that much more firepower to arguably baseball's best farm system. The Braves also have three of the first 44 picks in the 2016 Draft, including the No. 3 overall selection.

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