All 30 teams have received notification about the size of their bonus pools for the 2018-19 international signing period, Baseball America’s Ben Badler reports. This is the second year that the current international signing system will be in place, which sets a hard cap on how much teams can spend on international prospects who are under 25 years old and have played six seasons or less in an international professional league (such as Cuba’s Serie Nacional). Teams are allotted into their respective pools based on revenues and market size.
$6,025,400 bonus pool: Athletics, Brewers, Marlins, Rays, Reds, Twins
$5,504,500 bonus pool: Diamondbacks, Indians, Orioles, Padres, Pirates, Rockies, Royals
$5,004,500 bonus pool: Cardinals
$4,983,500 bonus pool: Angels, Astros, Blue Jays, Braves, Cubs, Dodgers, Giants, Mariners, Mets, Nationals, Rangers, Red Sox, Tigers, White Sox, Yankees
$3,949,000 bonus pool: Phillies
The Phillies and Cardinals each lost money from the draft pools for signing free agents (Carlos Santana and Jake Arrieta for Philly, Greg Holland for St. Louis) who rejected qualifying offers from their former teams. The Phils and Cards were two of nine teams who didn’t receive revenue-sharing money but also didn’t exceed the luxury tax last season, and thus they had to give up draft picks and $500K in international pool money for each QO free agent signed.
Under the previous CBA’s signing system, teams were penalized for going over their pool limits by being limited to signing players for no more than $300K. Eight teams (the Astros, A’s, Braves, Cardinals, Nationals, Padres, Reds, and White Sox) are still under this penalty for the 2018-19 international pool, though seven of them will be able to exceed the $300K once the 2019-20 int’l signing period opens on July 2, 2019. The Braves are the exception, as they still face future penalties based on their punishment for past international signing violations.
Given the $300K signing limit, we could very easily see the Braves and the other seven clubs choose to trade some of their excess pool money for prospects. Bonus pool money can be traded in $250K increments, and teams can increase their pool by as much as 75 percent of its original size. Such trades of international bonus pool funds have become increasingly common within the game, with some teams trying to add money to sign a particular international prospect (such as Shohei Ohtani) to teams like the Orioles who freely trade their bonus pool funds since they don’t prioritize the international market.