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.