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Fangraphs: Some International Notes


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In the draft, when teams go over their bonus pool, that money goes into an account that gets dispersed at a later date to the clubs that receive revenue sharing payments and who didn?t go over their pools. Since the penalties for going way over your pool in the draft are harsher than in the international market (loss of picks/pool and a tax rather than a tax and temporary ban on big bonuses), no team goes way over their draft pool and thus this pool of money from draft penalties is pretty small. So small in fact, that most clubs I talked to, including scouting directors and executives that focus on rules, didn't know every detail of this rule. Teams tend to not go over their pool in the draft but the stakes are low, so it doesn't affect strategy very much.

This rule is quite different for the international market. Here?s the language, straight from the CBA, about where the international bonus penalty money goes:

During the 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 signing periods, any tax proceeds generated as a result of a Club exceeding its Signing Bonus Pool will be used by the Office of the Commissioner, after considering the recommendations of the Committee, to offset the cost of international reforms. Thereafter, unless an international draft becomes operational, the Office of the Commissioner may use the tax proceeds to further the international development of baseball.

When this was written, MLB didn't think teams would blow way past their bonus pools, because they thought they had put in controls with a similar amount of punishment to the draft rules. Consistent with that line of thinking, this language seems to assume there won't be much money in the international bonus pool penalty fund. This money is to be used for expenses (like additional international personnel, uniforms/facilities for official MLB showcases and prospect leagues, etc.) and then, before saying the fund becomes discretionary after all expenses are paid, it mentions a draft. MLB seems to be saying something like: this fund won't have much money in it and it's unlikely it'll be a big amount before we get an international draft up and running, but if somehow we're wrong, the money will just get folded into the general international baseball budget.?


The 30 clubs are having a hard time figuring out what MLB's international intentions are. The clubs and MLB meet once a year at the Winter Meetings to talk about rules and international personnel don't think that's nearly often enough, given the shifting landscape in the market (domestic scouting directors meet twice a year). In these meetings, MLB doesn't tip their hand about an international draft and clubs assume this is because the draft is at the top of MLB?s international to do list;


MLB recently enacted a rule that has angered many teams. The positive outcome of this rule change is it will likely crack down some on the 9-12 month early verbal deals that I referenced above, but the cost (making things harder for teams, agents and players) is universally seen as too high. The rule changed what types of players can stay in team academies and barred independent organizations like the DPL and IPL (who organize games between top prospects in order to market under-scouted kids and give scouts more chances to evaluate) from holding workouts in the manner they have for years. The email announcing the change came in the middle of the week, saying the rule was in effect tomorrow; clubs had hours to kick kids out of their academies, cancel visits for the coming days/weeks and the IPL and DPL were forced to change their plans and move events to worse facilities.

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