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