The Braves, Nationals, and Padres are all expected to bust their international spending allocations for the upcoming July 2 period, Ben Badler of Baseball America reports. With many other clubs serving the first or second year of their own bans on doling out $300K+ bonuses to pool-eligible players, and other organizations not heavily invested internationally, it appears these three clubs are prepared to enter the void.
As Badler explains, the teams don’t yet know exactly how much cash they’ll have to spread, but the general spending capacity won’t come as a surprise since it’s based on prior year’s record. Teams can also acquire individual spending allotments from other clubs via trade, and with many organizations unable to spend all of their slots, there should be plenty available. But a club can only increase its total allocation by 50%, so even adding in some new capacity presumably won’t keep the teams from avoiding the penalties.
The disincentive for going over the pool, of course, is a 100% tax on overages above 10% as well as up to a two-year timeout (after a 15% excess) on future bonuses of over $300K. But it’s long been expected that changes could be coming to the international amateur market — as commissioner Rob Manfred just addressed yesterday — and it’s certainly possible (but hardly certain) that budget-busting organizations won’t end up being handicapped under a new system.
Atlanta, especially, is expected to attack the market, per Badler. He says that the rebuilding organization is lining up a series of signings that could equal or exceed the Yankees’ spree from 2014-15. Their biggest targets are top-shelf infield prospect Kevin Maitan and fellow Venezuelan standout Abrahan Gutierrez, a catcher.
Meanwhile, the Nats are looking to build on their success at low-budget international signings with some real cash at their disposal. A pair of middle infielders — Dominican Yasel Antuna and Venezuelan Jose Sanchez — are near the top of their list.
Likewise, the Padres have not only been laying the groundwork for a series of deals with Dominican and Venezuelan players in the $1MM range, but are eyeing a major strike on the burgeoning market for young Cuban talent. Badler says that the San Diego organization is attempting to convince several players who may soon become free agents to wait for the new signing period to ink their deals.