Over at Baseball America, Ben Badler provides an outstanding preview of the coming July 2 international signing period. Of particular note, Badler reports that the Astros are expected to exceed their spending limits and incur the maximum penalty (a 100% overage tax and two-year ban on $300K+ bonuses). Houston has been making huge outlays through the draft in recent years, but saw its domestic amateur spending capacity plummet after the club’s excellent performance at the major league level one year ago. With that pipeline now constrained, Badler says the ’Stros will blow past their available $2.2MM or so in pool allocation on just one player — Cuban shortstop Anibal Sierra — while likely adding several other pricey youngsters.
- Badler goes on to detail the latest elsewhere in the market, listing some of the high-dollar prospects attached to the Braves, Padres, Nationals, and Cardinals, which are the other clubs he expects to top their cap this year. He also explains the interesting case of Dominican infielder Freudis Nova, who lost an apparent ~$2.5MM agreement with the Marlins after testing positive for steroid use. He now appears to be up for grabs, with his landing spot and ultimate bonus uncertain. Badler writes that the Padres and Astros make sense as logical possibilities, as each is already expected to shatter their bonus pool, while clubs that are planning to stick within their set limitations have largely allocated most of their funds via verbal agreements already.