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July 2nd MLB 2016-2017 international signing window primer

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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.

Ben Badler at Baseball America:

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.

Badler notes that the five freed players will be allowed to keep their bonus money from last year and MLB is making efforts to ensure that they find new organizations without undue hardship.

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.

***CHAOS?: Effects of this ban remain to be seen. Obviously the Red Sox will take a hit to the international side of their farm system, though as Badler notes it could be worse. For clubs in general the penalty is designed to ensure strict adherence to the bonus structure and discourage working of loopholes. Although MLB is making an effort to protect the players directly involved, indirect ripple effects on other players are unavoidable, with five new players on the market and necessary re-jiggling of planned bonuses and oral agreements between players and teams.

***BONUS POOLS: Here are the bonus pools each team has to work with for 2016-2017:

Reds: $5,163,400
Phillies
: $5,610,800

Braves: $4,766,000
Padres
$3,347,600

Rockies $4,412,700
Athletics $3,818,700
Brewers $4,098,500
White Sox $2,973,500
Dodgers $2,118,900
Cardinals $2,027,300
Twins $2,399,100
Rays $2,615,900
Orioles $2,539,600
Marlins $3,569,600
Mariners $2,875,400
Indians $2,467,400
Red Sox (NONE, originally $2,783,800)
Mets $2,138,200
Pirates $2,044,800
Blue Jays $2,100,200
Tigers $3,150,000
Angels $2,217,300
Diamondbacks $2,697,400
Astros $2,197,000
Yankees $2,177,100
Nationals $2,335,000
Giants $2,274,400
Rangers $2,157,400
Royals $2,081,200
Cubs $2,063,100


***COVERAGE:
We will be here throughout the day Saturday covering all the major signings.