The International Bonus Pools Don’t Matter

International baseball has been in the news often lately with the ongoing saga of Yoan Moncada (he’s in America now), the signing of Yasmany Tomas and yesterday’s news that Cuba-U.S. relations could be getting much better.  In recent news, at the yearly international scouting directors’ meeting at the Winter Meetings last week, sources tell me there was no talk about the recent controversial rule change and no talk about an international draft, as expected.

So much has been happening lately that you may have temporarily forgotten about last summer, when the Yankees obliterated the international amateur spending record (and recently added another prospect). If the early rumors and innuendo are any indication, the rest of baseball isn’t going to let the Yankees have the last word.

I already mentioned the Cubs as one of multiple teams expected to spend well past their bonus pool starting on July 2nd, 2015.  I had heard rumors of other clubs planning to get in the act when I wrote that, but the group keeps growing with each call I make, so I decided to survey the industry and see where we stand.  After surveying about a dozen international sources, here are the dozen clubs that scouts either are sure, pretty sure or at least very suspicious will be spending past their bonus pool, ranked in order of likelihood:

Almost Definitely (3): Cubs, Blue Jays, Phillies
Expected/Likely (4): Rangers, Padres, Dodgers, Diamondbacks
Possible/Rumored (5): Braves, Mariners, Nationals, Royals, Twins

The list at this point last year was pretty accurate, with the Yankees coming in as an emphatic yes and a handful of other teams like the Rays, Brewers and Red Sox tied to one or multiple players that would likely send them over to a much lesser degree. That is pretty close to exactly what happened, with the Yankees, Red Sox and Rays all going over on or near July 2nd, the Brewers trading for cap space to stay under, then the Angels going over much later in the period for Cuban 3B Roberto Baldoquin.  As a result, the Yankees, Red Sox, Rays and Angels are ineligible to spend over $300,000 on any player for two years, starting July 2nd, 2015.

How 2015 Is Different

While last year’s group was reasonably clear at this time, the multitude of teams circling the strategy this year makes it harder to predict.  Expecting a club to go over their pool usually means they are coordinating multiple signings, lining up secondary options, getting multiple high-level scouts not normally in the international realm involved, etc. It’s not that hard for rival clubs to notice these things, and pick up gossip from various agents, trainers, friends and family.

The problem is that with this many teams in this mix, it makes for quite a margin of error.  One or two players agreeing to a verbal deal can end another club’s pursuit of the overall strategy, once their top option is off the board.  So, look at this more of a snapshot during a horse race than a done deal.  Of course, the whole thing could be upended by Moncada doing something other than what is expected: signing with the Red Sox or Yankees in the next few months (more on Moncada here).

As explained in that Moncada piece, teams now are at a consensus that an international draft will start with the next CBA; the current CBA expires on December 1, 2016.  If things go as clubs expect, that would give them the upcoming 2015 signing period that opens on July 2nd, then the 2016 period as the only two chances to spend big, beyond the six months or so in the current period.  I’ve already covered the many reasons why this strategy is generally a good idea and here are some reports/video on some of the top 2015 prospects.  I will scout/write about many more of the 2015 July 2nd prospects in January/February.

A Strategic Choice

With a dollar for dollar penalty for everything spent over your pool, along with a two-year $300,000 bonus maximum as punishments for going over your international pool, these assumptions mean that every team in baseball has one chance to spend like crazy, with the one chance for the Yankees, Red Sox, Rays and Angels ending in about six months.

While talking to scouts for this article, an interesting strategic question came up.  If four teams from this period are in the penalty and somewhere between six and ten teams will spend into the penalty this year, that means somewhere from 10-14 teams (all of which are inclined to spend big internationally) will be knocked out for 2016, which would be the last signing period before the CBA expires.

This means if clubs that are circling the over-spending strategy this year start seeing prices going to high and too many teams going all in, those clubs are incentivized to push back their over-spending until 2016, when there would be little competition for the top players.  It’s worth mentioning that the best July 2nd prospect for many scouts is Venezuelan SS Kevin Maitan (Video).  He’s currently 14 years old, has been compared to some all-time greats already and isn’t eligible to sign until the 2016 period, presumably the last before an international draft would be instituted.



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Kiley McDaniel has worked in the scouting departments of the New York Yankees, Baltimore Orioles and Pittsburgh Pirates and has written for ESPN, among other outlets. Follow him on twitter for real-time thoughts on the players he’s seeing and hacky attempts at humor.


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Miguel
Guest
Miguel
1 year 5 months ago

Can someone remind me: where does the penalty money go? Just into MLB’s coffers?

John F
Guest
John F
1 year 5 months ago

From Kiley McDaniel’s post:
http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/yoan-moncada-is-affecting-all-of-international-baseball/

“During the 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 signing periods, any tax proceeds generated as a result of a Club exceeding its Signing Bonus Pool will be used by the Office of the Commissioner, after considering the recommendations of the Committee, to offset the cost of international reforms. Thereafter, unless an international draft becomes operational, the Office of the Commissioner may use the tax proceeds to further the international development of baseball.”

Adrock
Guest
Adrock
1 year 5 months ago

This shows how corrupt the system is. Every single one of those dollars should be going into the pockets of the international signees. The pool limits are so far below the ‘market’ value of the players that teams are lining up to blow past them, even if the kids will see less than half the money spent on them.

It’s a sad joke, that is unlikely to be improved by an international draft.

Pithy GM
Guest
Pithy GM
1 year 5 months ago

then they should unionize and negotiate the same rights that MLB players have fought for over 50 years because the current group of players and owners aren’t looking out for their best interests.

Doug Gray
Guest
1 year 5 months ago

Pithy GM….

You think a bunch of 15-year-olds from countries all over the world should unionize?

jfg
Guest
jfg
1 year 5 months ago

The point of an international draft would be to reduce how much money teams would spend on international players. If you think it’s unfortunate that the players aren’t getting all of this money, an international draft isn’t just unlikely to make it better, it’s guaranteed to make it worse.

Which prompts me to ask: why wasn’t an international draft established years ago? It seems like such an obvious way for teams to save money.

chuckb
Guest
chuckb
1 year 4 months ago

@Doug Gray…

“Prospects of the world, unite!”

AMB
Guest
AMB
1 year 5 months ago

Kiley,

I’m surprised to see the Phillies on the list. They have traditionally been loathe to cross the Commissioners office on issues like this (for example they rarely if ever busted slot on draft picks prior to the Rule 4 draft changes).

Do you think this is an overall (and much needed) change in philosophy for the organization or is there simply one player they are enamored with in this July 2nd class?

Thanks for all your great prospect insight.

Free_AEC
Guest
1 year 5 months ago

This is another BIG LIE floated by the Phillies propaganda machine.

It’s a Bernie Madoff con for the online dumpster divers in the Phillies fan base who stalk me online.

This rumor is 100% about creating an excuse to not sign YOAN MONCADA who is a Bryce Harper, Mike Trout type of talent. A franchise player.

The cost will be huge and as any Phillies fan knows the Phillies are all about not paying for talent. This is why the Phillies stink out loud from the top all the way down to half season A-ball.

Yoan Moncada is worth more than the Phillies entire farm system, with Cole Hamels gone Moncada is worth more than the Phillies entire franchise roster.

Moncada is the same age as J.P. Crawford. Moncada is a perfect middle infield fit for what the Phillies have enunciated publicly. Moncada will be in MLB doing damage when he is 21 years old. He’ll have an 18 year career.

It just won’t be in Philthadelphia.

This is John Middleton’s PLAN.

Have his stooge Amaro appear to be clueless.

Where is John Middleton? Busy building his castlein Palm Beach. Busy buying Hollywood production companies for his son.

Here is the Phillies PLAN to rip us off for billions over the next decade and into the future beyond that.

$100 million from Comcast (plus big cut of what would be small advertising pie while they stink).

$50 million National TV distributed by the Commissioners Office.

$25 million + MLB dot com + merchandising (this is probably a very low estimate as I have not researched it in many years)

Before they sell a ticket or beer they have over $175 million – probably $200 million.

Minimum salaries in three years will probably be $650,000

650,000

x 25

———

16.25 million

$200,000,000

– 16,250,000

—————–

$183,750,000

Let me know if you have any questions!

I bet you didn’t know being a clueless Rube could bring in so much revenue.

More castles! More Hollywood production companies. More finishes in the cellar for the Phillies.

Scott Rolen was right: NO COMMITMENT TO WIN

_

Eminor3rd
Member
Eminor3rd
1 year 5 months ago

You seem like the type of guy who sends a lot of mass email blasts to your family and friends.

jruby
Member
Member
jruby
1 year 5 months ago

what.

Free_AEC
Guest
1 year 5 months ago

Seventh inning stretch.

Anyone caught trying to sing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” will be
arrested and turned over to Homeland Security for deportation to
Guantanamo.

All will rise and clearly enunciate in tune with the singing cop or soldier as they belt out the fascist hymn “god Bless America”
_

zuluTOalbanianTOmalteseTOpolishTOhmongTOigboTOromanian
Guest
zuluTOalbanianTOmalteseTOpolishTOhmongTOigboTOromanian
1 year 5 months ago

Many of seven simple.

But he was caught trying to sing “Take me”
He was arrested and given over to the National Security removal
Guantanamo.

Stand up and speak clearly to the police and army to sing fascist and “God Bless America”

pinch
Guest
pinch
1 year 5 months ago

Where’s your signature? I always highlight and Google, but this time I can’t :(

Free_AEC
Guest
1 year 5 months ago

Looks like eight people are allowed to vote on this site.

zuluTOalbanianTOmalteseTOpolishTOhmongTOigboTOromanian
Guest
zuluTOalbanianTOmalteseTOpolishTOhmongTOigboTOromanian
1 year 5 months ago

It seems that people can vote for the website.

zuluTOalbanianTOmalteseTOpolishTOhmongTOigboTOromanian
Guest
zuluTOalbanianTOmalteseTOpolishTOhmongTOigboTOromanian
1 year 5 months ago

It is a silly Yankees BIG jump Bhalobasha Sepia propaganda.

The law simply online dumpster Bernie Madoff Phillies fans Spanish to follow me on the Internet.

Gossip is 100%, and Spanish Buyoan excuse Moncada Bryce Harper and Mike Trout Aballoj skills. Name calling.

The cost would be very Server and all fans know Phillies Phillies southern Arabia and server costs all that talent. So Yankees half a year ago the distribution server.

Moncada Zaidi Buyoan of Spanish farmers Cole Hamels FL Phillies and Yankees franchise Moncada necessary Zaidi.

It yankoo Moncada J. P. Crawford. Moncada Server is the perfect place half Spaniards know the Yankees are public. MLB Moncada much for you when you are 21 years old. He Server 18 users.

This is what makes the server along Philthadelphia.

John Middleton intends to follow the law.

Amaro This is a good server Jene Spanish.

John Middleton? Make castle Palm Beach. The company’s services for the food of man and the son of Hollywood.

Plan Yankees broke the billion over the next ten years in the future, and Spanish distribution.

Comcast $ 100 million (in addition to great beats server is a crumb of media with a shot).

TV allocate $ 50 million national commissioners office.

$ 25 million + com + MLB advice (and maybe this is what you should look down to find Zaidi Zaidi along Spanish)

Before using beer sales Canneh $ 175000000 Zaidi first server back – Berreth $ 200 million.

A minimum of three Spanish distribution rights above $ 650,000

650000

x 25

16250000

$ 200 million

– 16250000

——

$ 183750000

Let me know if the server’s own questions!

I bet they initially along Observe Book Server so dark Spanish domestic distribution.

Castles Zaidi! Zaidi KOMPAN Production Server Server Hollywood. Re Zaidi Yankees.

Scott Rolen food distribution: it does not work WinWin

Lenard
Guest
Lenard
1 year 5 months ago

I know I shouldn’t feed the trolls, but I’d be interested hearing your thoughts about 9/11 and the Apollo 11 moon landing.

*GASP* They both contain 11…

prop
Guest
prop
1 year 5 months ago

Kiley, where have you heard the rumor that the Twins might go over their bonus allotment, for the July 2015 to July 2016 period? That strikes me as uncharacteristic (but welcome, if true).

The Colonel
Guest
The Colonel
1 year 5 months ago

Kiley,
You were being kind of secretive about the details about Moncada leaving Cuba. Did you have a hunch that the embargo was going to be lifted? Was there even rumors or whispers about it? I’m not much up on the politics of it but it came as quite a surprise to me. It’s about effing time, the embargo was stupid. Anyway, just wondering if you or baseball peeps had a hunch (or knowledge) it was going to be lifted. Thx.

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