One thing that is new this year on the international market is that teams can trade from their bonus pools. A team can trade for bonus pool money, giving them the ability to acquire up to 50% of their original bonus pool. For example, the Pirates have a bonus pool of $2,426,000. That means they can trade for up to $1,213,000 in additional pool money.
What I didn’t know until today is that there are “international bonus slots”, which are broken down here by Baseball America. Every team has four bonus slots. For the Pirates, those slots break down as follows:
The teams also get an additional $700,000 outside of the bonus slots.
These slots are meaningless when it comes to what you can spend on players. The Pirates could spend their entire $2,426,000 on one player if they chose to go that route. They also don’t have to spend $878,900 on their highest guy. Pretty much they can spend their bonus pool however they want. The slots are more for trading bonus pool money (and were originally set up to make it easier to implement an international draft next year, which won’t happen).
We’ve seen a lot of bonus pool money change hands today. A recap of the deals:
**The Cubs received slots 2 and 3 from the Astros ($784,700 total) for minor league second baseman Ronald Torreyes.
**The Cubs also received the third and fourth slots from the Orioles ($388,100) along with Jake Arrieta and Pedro Strop in exchange for Scott Feldman and Steve Clevenger.
**The Cubs sent their fourth slot ($209,700) to the Dodgers along with Carlos Marmol in exchange for Matt Guerrier. In total they have gained $963,100 today in the three deals.
**The Rangers also acquired pool money from the Marlins today.
It’s kind of weird that teams have to trade players just for the ability to spend more money on international players, especially when MLB free agency is left unchecked. It will be interesting to see if the Pirates make a move, either trading money away, or adding more money. They haven’t been linked to a lot of expensive players, and they usually have success with smaller bonus signings, so it wouldn’t be horrible if they traded money away. On the flip side, if they traded for more money it would give them the luxury of adding a few more smaller signings and getting closer to the $3 M range they’ve been in over the last few years.