MLB's International signing day 2014: Twins primer

Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

Unfamiliar with the international signing period and what it means for the Twins? Twinkie Town has your answers.

Major League Baseball's international signing period opened up yesterday for the 2014-2015 period. This means that teams have between July 2, 2014, and June 15, 2015 to sign players outside of the United States, Puerto Rico, and Canada, provided those players turn 17 by September 1, 2015 - which would constitute the end of their first year in the system. Just like the MLB draft in June, teams have budgets by which they must abide lest they incur penalties, which we'll cover in a bit. Players who are 23 or older and who have five or more years of pro experience are exempt from those budgets.

This year the Twins have the fifth-largest bonus pool, at $3,686,600. Teams can acquire an additional 50% of their bonus pool via trade, but that has to be done by acquiring slots. Much like in the draft, for the international signing period teams are assigned slots and those slots have values. The Twins, for example, have four slots:

Slot Value
5 $2,025,800
35 $452,100
65 $305,200
95 $203,500


This doesn't mean that any player the Twins sign has to fit into one of these four values. It just means that if another team is going to acquire additional money for their bonus pool and they're going to get that from the Twins, it would need to be acquired as one of these four values. Similarly, the Twins could add just over $1,800,000 in bonus pool value, but it would need to come via slots from other teams. You can check out slot values here. The Twins, it should be noted, do not plan on selling or buying additional money.

Regarding penalties, there are similarities to the lashings teams get from going over their budget in the MLB draft. In short:

  • Going over bonus allocation incurs a 100% tax. Every dollar you spend over your limit becomes two.
  • Exceeding the budget by 5 to 10% means the team is not allowed to sign any individual player for more than $500,000 in the following international signing period.
  • Exceeding the budget by 10 to 15% means the team is not allowed to sign any individual player for more than $300,000 in the following international signing period.
  • Exceeding the budget by more than 15% means the team is not allowed to sign any individual player for more than $300,000 in the following two international signing periods.
There's been a lot of talk of teams all but ignoring budget restraints this season. Terry Ryan has vowed that the Twins will be active, but they are also, as is typical, willing to be patient. The players teams like right now will not be the exhaustive list of players that teams will be watching and hoping to sign before June 15 of 2015, and so the Twins are willing to sit on some money if it's the prudent choice.

As of today, the Twins have made one signing: Huascar Ynoa. Ynoa is a 16-year old right-handed pitcher out of the Dominican Republic, the brother of A's prospect Michael Ynoa. He signed for $800,000, leaving the Twins with just over $2,800,000 to spend, and was rated the #14 international prospect by Baseball America. Here is the scouting report on Ynoa from Minor League Ball:

Huascar Ynoa, R/R, 6'2", 190, D.R.
Huascar is Michael's younger brother but isn't quite the prospect the elder Ynoa was or is but he may need 4-5 years to figure it out as well. He is very raw but the stuff may project to be the most dominant in this class, it just lacks consistency and command. If I had to bet on one arm to be a future ace, I would bet on Ynoa but I would need big odds because he could be a guy who never repeats enough to make it work. On the other hand, an ace is worth 100 million+, he'll get 1 million+. 100:1 odds, I can handle that.

As and when the Twins sign additional international prospects, we'll keep you informed.

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