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International Bonus Money Already Changing Hands

MLB LogoOne 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:

1. $878,900

2. $400,300

3. $270,300

4. $176,500

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.

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Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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  • buccotime57

    I think there needs to be more rules and regulations about spending on international players…lol

  • BostonsCommon

    Not to go on a rant, but these are the most ridiculous, hypocritical rules, in all of sports… “These players can get paid, and these players cannot. And these players can be be drafted, but if you’re from this country you’re a free agent? And if you are a Free Agent you can only get paid so much to sign, but once you’ve signed, you can then sign another contract for as much as you want.

    Meanwhile, some jackass is in the other room saying, “Here, lets let the Yanks give ARod $300M to sit on the bench and shoot steroids into his ass, and watch his hips and the rest of his body fall apart because of it”.

    I mean its ridiculous. There’s no rhyme or reason to any of it. Why are you going to cap spending on one group of players (Intl. FAs or Prep/College players) and not cap it on the others (MLB players). If you don’t want to have a MLB salary cap, then fine, don’t have it, and teams will have to figure out other ways to compete. But when they find those other ways (drafting and intl FA, how the hell do you say, “ok, we’re capping that, but not MLB spending.”

    I mean its the ultimate band aide on a bullet wound…

    Sorry, rant over.

  • wkkortas

    At some point, some amateur player and his advisor will sue MLB over its slotting system, and it seems that MLB will have a hard time defending itself.

    • BostonsCommon

      Has to fall somewhere between anti-trust regulation and collusion right?

    • Steve Williams

      Nope. MLB would win any such case hands down. Courts, including the Supreme Court, have ruled that the union certified to represent the workers in a given industry can negotiate entry level terms and wages. That’s why no attorney has any interest in pursuing a lawsuit. Lots of expense for no gain.

  • michaelbro8

    You get a bunch of lawyers together in a room, and stuff like this happens

  • Thom Kay

    Cubs moves are brilliant. They have no intention of being in the bottom 2 teams again, so this is maybe their last chance to spend big on the international market.

    Why not spend $6-7 million now?

  • smurph

    Answer: It’s baseball. Everything is different. In the real world “strike” means to hit something or someone. In baseball “strike” means you DIDN’T hit the ball. The “foul line” and “foul pole” are actually in fair territory. A book rule double is referred to as a “ground rule” double. When you “score a run” it actually means you stop running. For a Home “Run” you jog instead of running. For a “walk” most guys jog to first. A “curve ball” usually breaks down (drops) instead of curving sideways. A “knuckleball” is thrown with the fingernails on the ball, not the knuckles. The October Classic is now played partly in Novemmber. Two leagues play games against each other, but they use different rules. The “All-star Game” is played at the midway point in the season where you honor players, based on what they did in the first half of the season. What they do in the 2nd half is irrelevant. Wait, I was wrong on that one. The All-star game is a popularity contest, where the best-known players play instead of the players who are playing the best. And one player can be paid more than an entire team (ARod).

  • Kevin_Young

    At first I didn’t care, but Theo is really starting to scare me with how well and rapidly he’s building up that team.

  • skliesen

    We’re Pelosi and Harry Reid consulted on how to design this system? Reminds me of congressional legislation.

  • Ecbucs

    I know the Bucs haven’t been making high profile signings but it seems like a lot of teams went out of their way to announce signings yesterday.

    Wonder how many players the Bucs did sign (I would expect them to use all their bonus money).

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