The 2015-2016 international signing period is upon us, the first full-fledged foray into the foreign amateur market by the new Dodgers front office.
The international signing period runs from July 2 until next June 15, but a lot of the action will be concentrated in these first few weeks. The Dodgers have been rumored to be quite aggressive during this period, with Kiley McDaniel of FanGraphs projecting the Dodgers to land four of his top 15 prospects, and Ben Badler of Baseball America projecting the Dodgers to nab three of his top 25 prospects, a list that doesn't include either outfielder Eddy Martinez or pitcher Yadier Alvarez, both linked to the Dodgers and both listed as the top two international prospects by both FanGraphs and Jesse Sanchez of MLB Pipeline.
Much like the draft, there is a system set in place by the collective bargaining agreement to limit spending, with penalties for exceeding the allotted international bonus pool.
Each team has a bonus pool based on inverse order of 2014 record, with four round worth of slots, which descending values. The total of those four slots plus $700,000 is the total international bonus pool for each team.
The Dodgers, owners of the fourth-best record in MLB in 2014, had the 27th slot in each of the four rounds, with allotted bonus amounts of $545,900 (No. 27), $368,700 (No. 57), $249,000 (No. 87) and $156,700 (No. 117), per Baseball America, giving the Dodgers a total bonus pool (including the $700,000 base) of $2,020,300.
Signing bonuses of $10,000 or less do not count toward the pool.
There are consequences for surpassing the bonus pool, which will almost certainly come into play with the Dodgers during this signing period. Per the collective bargaining agreement:
|International bonus pool penalties|
|0-4.99%||$2,020,301-$2,121,314||100% tax on overage|
|5-9.99%||$2,121,315-$2,222,329||100% tax on overage
no bonus over $500,000 in next period
|10-14.99%||$2,222,330-$2,323,344||100% tax on overage
no bonus over $300,000 in next period
|15%+||$2,323,345+||100% tax on overage
no bonus over $300,000 in next two periods
What this essentially means is that the Dodgers will be paying double (minus ~$2 million) for their international spending spree, and won't be able to sign anyone for a bonus higher than $300,000 from July 2, 2016 to June 15, 2018, the next two signing periods.
Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman addressed the potential penalties during spring training.
"We are good at factoring in various costs, whether it's money, whether it's players you give up, whether it's sitting out two international periods, we factor in to the cost of doing business," Friedman said. "Adding depth to our system and having as many quality young players as we can is obviously a focal point."
What about being restricted for two years?
"That assumes that if you are restricted to signing guys for $300,000 or less you are significantly worse," Friedman explained. "That's an assumption you'd have to make, and I'm not positive that's the case."