On Saturday, July 2nd, the 2016-2017 signing window for international prospects opens for MLB clubs. Here's a quick primer on what to expect.
***RED SOX PENALTY: The big news on the international front today came from MLB itself, the commissioner's office handing down a penalty against the Boston Red Sox for attempting to circumvent the bonus rules during the 2015-2016 window. The Red Sox were restricted to signing players for no more than $300,000 each last year due to blowing past the bonus pool in 2014, but managed to sign several top prospects anyhow by making "package deals" with multiple players. Five players including significant prospects Alberto Guaimaro and Simon Muzziotti have been declared free agents and the Sox have been banned from signing international players during the 2016-2017 window.
Package deals have happened before the Boston's use of the tactic was unusually aggressive and was apparently too much for MLB to accept.
Instead of penalizing the Red Sox for the 2017-18 signing period, which would have had a more damaging effect on the Red Sox since that will be the next year they can sign players for more than $300,000, MLB’s decision to ban the Red Sox for 2016-17 signings leaves several amateur prospects in Venezuela out to dry. Several 16-year-old Venezuelan players were expecting to sign with the Red Sox on Saturday, but those players are now scrambling to find deals with other clubs. Due to MLB’s timing, that could be difficult for some of those players, since the majority of teams have already committed their bonus pool money elsewhere with oral agreements for other players.
Behind the scenes, MLB has been working in cooperation with the MLB Players Association to help them select a new agent who is certified by the union to represent them in their upcoming contract negotiations. MLB is holding a showcase on July 5 at Estadio Quisqueya in Santo Domingo. The players will also be allowed to hold private workouts for clubs.
***BONUS POOLS: Here are the bonus pools each team has to work with for 2016-2017:
White Sox $2,973,500
Red Sox (NONE, originally $2,783,800)
Blue Jays $2,100,200
***COVERAGE: We will be here throughout the day Saturday covering all the major signings.