Cleveland Indians 2013-14 International Signing Bonus Pool Update

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

With the official signing of Leandro Linares last week, the Indians have filled their third slot for their 2013/2014 International Bonus Pool Phase.

The International Signing Pool is a bit different than the recent 2012-2013 signing period. This Pool does not cover the Ichiro Suzuki or Daisuke Matsusaka type signings, but rather for younger players who never signed a major or minor league contract and reside outside the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. These players if they turn 17 by September 1 or by the completion of his first minor league season are eligible to sign between July 2, 2013 and June 15, 2014. In last year's installment, every team was allotted $2.9M to spend on these international free agents.

But instead of the flat dollar amount for all 30 teams, this year's installment is similar to the Rule 4 draft (June Amateur) where the teams are slotted in reverse order of winning percentage from last year and the dollar amounts are slotted like the amateur draft. Also, every team is only allowed four slots for signing. For example, the Astros at #1 had a pool of $4.9437M and the Indians at #5 had $3.636900M while the Nationals at #30  had a mere $1.8469M to spend on four players.

In addition to its international signing bonus pool, each club is allowed to sign six players for bonuses of $50,000 or less that will not count against its pool, the same way each team is was allowed to do so during the last year's signing period. Any signing bonus of $10,000 or less will also be exempt from a team's bonus pool, an increase from the $7,500 bonus exemptions in place last year.

As this year's slotting looks awfully familiar to the Rule 4 draft, I will not be surprised if next year this turns into a full-fledged draft, not this hybrid. But no later than two years from now, the draft will assuredly be in place.

Unlike the Rule 4 draft though, teams are allowed to trade these international slots. But they are only allowed to trade 50% of their pool space. For example, the Cubs bought the Astros #2 and 3 slots and the Orioles #3 and 4 slots, while dealing their #4 spot to the Dodgers, leaving them $5.5203M to sign 7 players.

Like the Rule 4 draft, there are penalties assigned for oversigning. And they are fairly brutal, depending if there is a draft next year or not:

Penalties With 2014 International Draft

• 0-5 percent over pool: 75 percent tax on the pool overage.
• 5-10 percent over pool: 75 percent tax on the pool overage. Team loses first-round pick in the 2014 international draft.
• 10-15 percent over pool: 100 percent tax on the pool overage. Team loses first-round and second-round pick in the 2014 international draft.
• 15 percent or more over pool: 100 percent tax on the pool overage. Team loses first-round picks in both the 2014 and 2015 international drafts.

Penalties With No International Draft
• 0-5 percent over pool: 75 percent tax on the pool overage.
• 5-10 percent over pool: 75 percent tax on the pool overage. Team won’t be allowed to sign a player for more than $500,000 during the 2014-15 signing period.
• 10-15 percent over pool: 100 percent tax on the pool overage. Team won’t be allowed to sign a player for more than $500,000 during the 2014-15 signing period.
• 15 percent or more over pool: 100 percent tax on the pool overage. Team won’t be allowed to sign a player for more than $250,000 during the 2014-15 signing period.

Anyways, the Tribe has made three of their four signings this year:

Player

Pos

Country

Amount

Willy Castro

SS

Dominican Republic

$850,000

Junior Soto

OF

Dominican Republic

$600,000

Leandro Linares

RHP

$950,000

Total

$2,400,000

Available Slot Pool

$3,636,900

Net

+$1,236,900

(thanks to Ben Badler's articles on Baseball America for most of the info )

This means they have room for one more "big" signing. Although I doubt they get any of the supposed rated Top 30 players for that dollar figure.

The Indians signed two guys right on the first day of the period, July 2.

One was Willy Castro, a 16 year old shortstop from the Dominican Republic. According to minorleagueball.com, Castro is 6' 0", 150 pounds with an average arm, some speed and some power. He is not an elite defender yet, but very solid. That website compared him to Omar Infante.

The second guy signed was Junior Soto, a 16 year old 6' 2" outfielder, also from the Dominican Republic. He has been identified as having very raw righthanded power. He most likely will end up in the corners.

And lastly they signed Leandro Linares. Although he didn't crack the minorleagueball top 30, Linares was heavily pursued. He is 19 and 6' 3" 200 pounds. His fastball has been clocked in the low 90s with a high of 94. He has a slow curve in the mid-70s. He also throws a change and either a cutter or slider.

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