The start of the international signing period on July 2 is always one of the most anticipated days on baseball's calendar, and the 2016 version once again is living up to the hype.The Braves made a big splash, landing shortstop Kevin Maitan, No. 1 on MLB.com's Top 30 International Prospects
The start of the international signing period on July 2 is always one of the most anticipated days on baseball's calendar, and the 2016 version once again is living up to the hype.
The Braves made a big splash, landing shortstop Kevin Maitan, No. 1 on MLB.com's Top 30 International Prospects list and the crown jewel of this year's class. The 16-year-old switch-hitter is widely considered the best prospect to come out of Venezuela since Miguel Cabrera.
Oakland made one of the biggest signings of the day by inking Cuban phenom Lazaro "Lazarito" Armenteros, a potential five-tool player, to a $3 million deal. Lazarito, who became eligible to sign in February, is one of the most intriguing and impressive prospects in this year's international class despite some off-field distractions that included a change in representation after his former agent allegedly received a death threat.
The Padres also went on a spending spree, landing six of the Top 30 prospects, and several other teams -- including the Astros, Cardinals, Nationals and Phillies -- also added a nice crop of international prospects to their Minor League systems. And more teams are expected to be active as the period continues.
The Red Sox will not be one of those teams after they were penalized on Friday for circumventing the international signing rules last year. The five players Boston signed last year were declared free agents, and the Red Sox were banned from signing any players during this year's international signing period.
The market is still to be determined for Cuban players like right-handed pitcher Vladimir Gutierrez (No. 2), outfielder Randy Arozarena (No. 13) and pitcher Ronald Bolanos (No.17), who have yet to agree to deals.
Here's a look at which top international prospects have agreed to terms with clubs, and for how much. Unless otherwise noted, clubs have not confirmed the deals.
1. Kevin Maitan, SS, Venezuela - Braves* ($4,250,000) More »
- Adrian Morejon, LHP, Cuba - Padres ($11,000,000) More »
- Vladimir Gutierrez, RHP, Cuba - TBA
- Luis Almanzar, SS, Dominican Republic - Padres ($4,000,000) More »
- Lazarito Armenteros, OF, Cuba - A's* ($3,000,000) More »
- Gabriel Arias, SS, Venezuela - Padres ($1,900,000) More »
- Alfredo Rodriguez, SS, Cuba - Reds ($7,000,000) More »
- Luis Garcia, SS, Dominican Republic - Nationals* ($1,300,000) More »
- Freudis Nova, SS, Dominican Republic - Astros* ($1,200,000) More »
- Jeisson Rosario, OF, Dominican Republic - Padres ($1,850,000) More »
- Jonathan Machado, CF, Cuba - Cardinals ($2,350,000)
- David Garcia, C, Venezuela - Rangers ($800,000) More »
- Victor Garcia, OF, Venezuela - Cardinals ($1,500,000) More »
- Randy Arozarena, INF, Cuba - TBA
- Yasel Antuna, SS, Dominican Republic - Nationals* ($3,900,000) More »
- Jordy Barley, SS, Dominican Republic - Padres ($1,000,000) More »
- Francisco Morales, RHP, Venezuela - Phillies ($900,000) More »
- Ronald Bolanos, RHP, Cuba - TBA
- Abrahan Gutierrez, C, Venezuela - Braves* ($3,500,000) More »
- Yunior Severino, SS, Dominican Republic - Braves ($1,900,000) More »
- Jose Sanchez, SS, Venezuela - Nationals ($950,000) More »
- Yerdeluis Vargas, SS, Dominican Republic - A's* ($1,500,000) More »
- Yenci Pena, SS, Dominican Republic - Braves ($1,050,000) More »
- Marcos Brito, SS, Dominican Republic - A's* ($1,100,000) More »
- Livan Soto, SS, Venezuela - Braves ($1,000,000) More »
- Luis Veloz, OF, Dominican Republic - TBA
- Brayan Gonzalez, SS, Venezuela - Phillies ($800,000) More »
- Justin Lopez, SS, Venezuela - Padres ($1,200,000) More »
- Tirso Ornelas, OF, Mexico - Padres ($1,500,000) More »
- Pablo Abreu, OF, Dominican Republic - Brewers ($800,000) More »
*Club has confirmed signing but not the terms of the deal.
An international player is eligible to sign with a Major League team between July 2 through June 15 of next year if the prospect turns 17 before Sept. 1 of this year or by the completion of his first Minor League season. Additionally, any prospect who is already 17 or older and has not previously signed a Major or Minor League contract, resides outside the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico and has not been enrolled in a high school or college in the U.S., Canada or Puerto Rico within the previous year is eligible to sign during the period.
2016 international bonus pools
There are specific signing guidelines each team must follow.
In 2012, in accordance with the Collective Bargaining Agreement, spending limits were introduced and each club was allotted $2.9 million to spend on the international market during the signing period that will begin on Saturday. Each team is allotted a $700,000 base and a bonus pool based on the team's record in 2014, a figure ranging from $5,610,800 for the Phillies, who had the Majors' lowest winning percentage last year, to $2,027,300 for the Cardinals, who had the highest winning percentage.
The signing bonus pools are made up of four slot values. Additionally, clubs are allowed to trade pool money. All bonuses of $10,000 or less are exempt.
Teams that exceed the pools by 0 to 5 percent have to pay a 100 percent tax, and teams that exceed the pools by 5 to 10 percent are not allowed to sign a player for more than $500,000 during the next signing period and also have to pay a 100 percent tax on the pool overage. Teams that exceed the pools by 10 to 15 percent are not allowed to sign a player for more than $300,000 during the next signing period and have to pay a 100 percent tax on the pool overage.
In the most severe penalty, teams that exceed the pool by 15 percent or more are not allowed to sign a player for more than $300,000 during the next two signing periods, in addition to paying a 100 percent tax on the pool overage.
The international signing guidelines do not apply to players who previously signed a contract with a Major or Minor League club, nor do they apply to players who are least 23 years old and have played as a professional in a league recognized by the Commissioner's Office for a minimum of five seasons. Cuban players who are at least 23 and have played in a Cuban professional league for five or more seasons are also exempt.
The Cubs, Dodgers, Giants and Royals have joined the Angels, D-backs, Rays, Red Sox and Yankees among those clubs who have exceeded their bonus pool and can't sign prospects for more than $300,000 until 2017. Also on the list is the Blue Jays, who will not be able to sign any pool-eligible players for more than $300,000 during the '16 signing period after exceeding their bonus pool during the '15 signing period.
Filling the void for those teams during the current period that ends June 15, 2017, are the Braves, Cardinals, Nationals, Padres and Reds, who have been very aggressive and have been linked to several players on MLBPipeline.com's Top 30 International Prospects list. The Astros, Athletics, Brewers, Phillies and Rangers are also among the teams that have also been very busy.
Jesse Sanchez is a national reporter for MLB.com based in Phoenix. Follow him on Twitter @JesseSanchezMLB and Facebook.