2014-15 International Prospects Rumors
Though Major League Baseball can accurately claim that the total allotment for international bonus pools has risen this season, the overall amount that clubs can spend on international talent has actually decreased, explains Baseball America's Ben Badler in his latest piece. While the bonus pool itself has risen, MLB has eliminated the six exemptions per team that allow a club to sign a player for up to $50K without that money counting against its bonus pool. By doing so, MLB eliminates a possible total of $9MM that can be spent on international talent. That's more than enough to offset the 1.2 percent rise from $78,226,600 in 2013 to $79,194,000 in 2014 that Badler reports in his article.
In the previous spending period, teams were able to sign an unlimited amount of players for $7500 or less in addition to their six exemptions of $50K or less. Badler points out that the $7500 figure will increase slightly to $10K for the coming signing period, but that marginal increase hardly accounts for the elimination of $50K exemptions.
The penalties for exceeding bonus pools will remain unchanged and will continue to pale in comparison to the penalties set for exceeding the limitations in the June amateur draft. Because of that, we're likely to see more teams take the route that the Rangers and Cubs took in the 2013-14 period and blow past international spending limits with little regard. The Yankees are one club that will reportedly do just that in the 2014-15 signing period.
Amateur draft pools and international bonus pools allotted under the latest collective bargaining agreement will rise by 1.7 percent this year, according to Jim Callis of MLB.com. As Callis notes, the Marlins have the largest bonus pool due to their 13 picks in the first 10 rounds, while the Orioles, who forfeited their first- and second-round picks to sign Ubaldo Jimenez and Nelson Cruz, have the lowest total.
Callis notes that this year's No. 1 overall pick in the draft is valued at $7,922,100 -- an increase of $131,700. Below, you can look at the draft and international pools available to all 30 teams (As Callis points out, both Stephen Drew and Kendrys Morales could still impact the draft pools, as their signing with new teams could create new picks/bonus money for the Red Sox and Mariners):
All bonus money directed toward a player selected in the Top 10 rounds of the draft counts against a team's bonus pool, as does any bonus money that exceeds $100K to players selected in rounds 11 through 40 (for example, a $180K bonus to a team's 11th-round pick would result in $80K being removed from its draft pool). As a reminder, the penalties for exceeding draft bonus pools are as follows:
- Exceed by 0 to 5 percent: 75 percent tax on the overage.
- Exceed by 5 to 10 percent: 75 percent tax on the overage plus the loss of a first-round pick in the following year's draft.
- Exceed by 10 to 15 percent: 100 percent tax on the overage plus the loss of a first- and second-round pick in the following year's draft.
- Exceed by more than 15 percent: 100 percent tax on the overage plus the lost of a first-round pick in the following two drafts.
Penalties for the international bonus pool are as follows (international bonus pools only apply to players who are under the age of 23 and have fewer than three years of professional experience):
- All overages are taxed at 100 percent.
- Exceed bonus pool by 5 to 10 percent: Team is not allowed to sign a player for more than $500K in the following international signing period.
- Exceed by 10 to 15 percent: Team is not allowed to sign a player for more than $300K in the following international signing period.
- Exceed by more than 15 percent: Team is not allowed to sign a player for more than $300K in the following two international signing periods.
As Callis writes, under last year's rules (which were slightly different), the Cubs and Rangers are unable to sign a player for more than $250K in the coming international signing period (July 2, 2014 through June 15, 2015) as a result of exceeding their 2013-14 bonus pools by more than 15 percent. Additionally, we've seen reports that the Yankees are planning to shatter their international bonus pool this season, meaning that they, too, could be looking at harsh penalties in the future.
Here are the team-by-team breakdowns of overall slot bonuses (click here to download an excel file to allow sorting). As the chart shows, and as one would expect, the Astros and Marlins have far and away the highest total spending allotment, landing over $18MM.
The Brewers will have a record payroll in 2014, COO Rick Schlesinger tells MLB.com's Adam McCalvy. "No matter how you measure it, and there are a lot of different ways to measure it, I can tell you that it's going to be north of $100 million," Schlesinger said. The COO went on to add:
"The way I look at it, you look at the growth of the industry in general, and how we're doing in revenues locally, and it makes sense. ... The fans over the year have supported us, the national television dollars are increasing, the health of the game from a revenue perspective has never been greater, so it's only natural and fitting that we use those monies to invest in our product."
Here some more Brewer-centric notes for your Thursday afternoon...
- General manager Doug Melvin told Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that reports of the team's record $3.2MM agreement with Dominican prospect Yirver Gilbert Lara are premature. Haudricourt acknowledges that Melvin could simply be denying the agreement because MLB prohibits formal agreements until July 2 (teams frequently have pre-arranged deals in place), but Melvin also flatly denied reports that Lara was traveling to the U.S. for a physical. "There's nothing to that," the GM said.
- MLB.com's Adam McCalvy reports that the Brewers were among the teams to watch Ryan Madson's most recent throwing session. Melvin characterized the Brewers' presence as a matter of due diligence, noting that he hasn't contacted Madson's agent since the showcase. He did, however, say that it sounds like Madson threw fairly well.
- More from Haudricourt, who hosted a lengthy chat with readers of the Journal-Sentinel today. Among the topics discussed are the Brewers' bench and glut of first base options -- Haudricourt cannot see Mark Reynolds, Lyle Overbay and Juan Francisco all making the club -- as well as Milwaukee's farm system, manager Ron Roenicke's job security and Tyler Thornburg's role in the wake of the Matt Garza signing.
First, McDaniel explains that the club's initial strategy was to reach agreement with a group of six players on the same day earlier in the winter. (The league's spending caps continue to drive the agreement timeline earlier, requiring teams to make larger commitments, notes McDaniel.) About $12MM was verbally committed at that point, spread amongst youngsters Dermis Garcia (a Domincan third baseman), Nelson Gomez (same), Juan De Leon (a Dominican center fielder), Jonathan Amundaray (a Venezuelan outfielder), Chris Torres (a Dominican shortstop), and Diego Castillo (a Venezuelan shortstop).
Other teams, too, are rumored to have struck verbal agreements with various players, as McDaniel details. But with several well-regarded talents still purportedly available, sources say that New York may now be planning a "second phase" that could bring the total spend as high as $20MM.
FEBRUARY 7: In an effort to replenish a bleak farm system, the Yankees are preparing to "spend wildly" on the international free agent market this summer, industry sources tell Andrew Marchand and Wallace Matthews of ESPNNewYork.com. Kiley McDaniel of Scout.com reported in late December that New York was planning to incur penalties by spending $12MM to $15MM on the approaching 2014-15 international signing period. The new signing season, which kicks off (as always) on July 2, is believed by many to offer a particularly strong crop of talent.
The Yankees are allotted just over $2MM to spend on international free agents this summer, but the ESPNNewYork.com duo reports that the club may spend a staggering $18MM in bonuses as they look to restock their minor league ranks with high-upside talent. Such an expenditure would come with the harshest of penalties laid out in the newest CBA; the Yankees would pay a 100 percent tax on their overage and would not be allowed to sign a player for more than $250K in the following international signing period. While those measures are undoubtedly harsh, they haven't stopped the Cubs and Rangers from spending more than $8MM each on international free agents during the current signing period.
Marchand and Matthews continue by stating that one reason behind the potential spending spree is the fear of an eventual international draft that will remove such tactics as a possibility. While the international draft talks have reportedly been tabled until after the 2016 season, implementing such a big spending strategy in 2014-15 could potentially allow the Yankees to employ the tactic twice more before the draft might become a reality. (In my mind, seeing teams pursue such a tactic may only enhance the industry's desire for an international draft.)
General manager Brian Cashman wouldn't comment on the team's spending plans, but he did go on record as saying that it is "certainly our prerogative" to spend more than the allotted amount. One member of the Yankees organization offered the following anonymous quote:
"We consider it a strategic option. Whether we play it this year hasn't been decided. At some point I would imagine we would. It might make sense. One of the things that is looming is the [international] draft and once that happens, we have the same circumstances as in the U.S."