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Phils may pursue prospect Maitan

MLB.com @ToddZolecki

PHILADELPHIA -- Remember those trades the Phillies made this summer that got them a whole lot of "international amateur signing bonus space?"

It sounded boring at the time, but the nearly $1 million could turn into something exciting in the future. Major League Baseball announced Tuesday it had declared 13 Braves prospects free agents following an investigation that determined Atlanta circumvented international signing rules from 2015-17.

PHILADELPHIA -- Remember those trades the Phillies made this summer that got them a whole lot of "international amateur signing bonus space?"

It sounded boring at the time, but the nearly $1 million could turn into something exciting in the future. Major League Baseball announced Tuesday it had declared 13 Braves prospects free agents following an investigation that determined Atlanta circumvented international signing rules from 2015-17.

That group includes shortstop Kevin Maitan. He is the No. 38 overall prospect, according to MLBPipeline.com.

The Phillies could take a run at Maitan, although other teams have more money in their 2017-18 international bonus pool to offer him. The Rangers ($3,535,000), Yankees ($3.5 million) and Twins ($3,245,000) have the most money remaining, although teams have the option of counting the bonus toward the current (2017-18) signing period or the following (2018-19) one.

The Phillies have about $900,000 remaining for the current signing period.

That is worth noting as the Phillies also seem unlikely to sign Japanese star Shohei Ohtani. Because Ohtani's signing bonus is limited, he essentially is going to choose the team he prefers the most. Many people guess he will choose the Yankees, because they will help him maximize his endorsement earnings.

But the Phillies could pursue former Braves other than Maitan, too. When they were signed in 2016, catcher Abrahan Gutierrez ranked No. 18 in this summer's Top 30 International Prospects list. Shortstop Yunior Severino ranked No. 19, shortstop Yenci Pena ranked No. 22 and infielder Livan Soto ranked No. 24. Right-handers Guillermo Zuniga and Juan Contreras also got substantial signing bonuses.

The Phillies signed outfielder Simon Muzziotti under similar circumstances in July 2016. He became a free agent because the Red Sox also circumvented the international signing rules.

The Phillies have extra money to spend on international signings before the 2018-19 signing period begins next July, due to trades they made this July that involved Howie Kendrick and Jeremy Hellickson.

"You guys probably know the caliber of player that that can afford, in that market," Phillies general manager Matt Klentak said in July. "International slot money was a big part of the value in both these trades for us. The name of the game is talent, and there are limited ways that we can acquire talent. One is through the Draft, another is through trades and another is through signing international amateurs. There are rules that govern how much we can spend in all those areas, but this was an opportunity for us to add to our pool and allow our international group to go and identify more talent."

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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