So, that was quite a year. It didn’t start out as feverish as it ended. I’m, of course, talking about the 2014-15 July 2 international signing period. It officially concluded on Monday, and the Dodgers definitely made their presence known.
The most money they spent on an international amateur free agent was $750,000 — which counted toward their bonus pool. That was given to Dominican outfielder Romer Cuadrado. During the next period, they are planning to blow that number out of the water. Yadier Alvarez alone could, reportedly, command a $16 million bonus.
The next-highest amateur bonus they paid was to outfielder Felix Osorio at $205,000. For comparison’s sake, J2 2015-16 target Starling Heredia could get a $3 million bonus. While the new front office wasn’t in charge for most of the period, they made a huge splash just a couple months ago.
Hector Olivera was the biggest signing of the period by the Dodgers — and any team — at $62.5 million. I didn’t think he would get that much, considering he had an elbow issue and was already nearly 30 years old. But here we are.
Of course, the Dodgers tried to land Yoan Moncada. They offered him a $35 million bonus on the condition he would wait until July 2, 2015, to sign. Unsurprisingly, Moncada took the Red Sox’s $31.5 million offer to start playing right now.
The Dodgers also signed Pablo Fernandez to an $8 million minor-league deal. The 25-year-old’s signing came out of nowhere, and he has yet to pitch in a game stateside. Obviously, the front office saw something in him — enough to give him an $8 million bonus. We’ll see how he works out.
They were also interested in Yoan Lopez, who went to the Diamondbacks for $8 million. That deal alone took the D’Backs out of major contention for the 2015-16 and 2016-17 signing periods. The 22-year-old is having some success in Double-A, but not enough to severely limit Arizona’s capabilities for the next two July 2 periods. But that’s a D’Backs’ problem.
Here’s a primer when it comes to signing Cuban players, since the Dodgers will be on them regularly for the next calendar year.
Cuban players who are 23 or older and have spent five or more years in Serie Nacional are exempt from MLB’s international signing pool, hence the reason Jose Abreu got $68 million last winter from the White Sox and Rusney Castillo got $72 million in the summer from the Red Sox.
The international signing period, known as the July 2 period, is the time when teams can sign international prospects not subject to the MLB Draft. Like the draft, there are signing restrictions. There are bonus allotments teams cannot exceed without penalties.
The period runs from July 2 through June 15. The Dodgers have $1,963,800 to spend on bonuses for international prospects. They can acquire more slot money in trades, as they did last year in trades with the Cubs and Marlins. But they cannot acquire more than 50 percent of their original bonus allotment, or $981,900. There probably isn’t that much extra bonus space available in trade anyway. They were able to land $406,700 last year.
Here’s how it works, via the Collective Bargaining Agreement.
|Overage (percentage)||Penalty (taxed amount)|
|0-4.99||75 percent tax ($73,641.75)|
|5-9.99||75 percent tax ($147,284.25)
One bonus of more than $500,000
|10-14.99||100 percent tax ($294,569)
No bonuses more than $500,000
|15-plus||100 percent tax ($294,570+)
No bonuses more than $300,000
Here is a list of the Dodgers’ international signees and bonuses for 2014-15, as best as I could gather. Olivera, Fernandez and Drake’s bonuses won’t count toward the Dodgers’ international bonus pool.
Baseball America has the Dodgers at $1.98 million on international spending in 2014, so they’re about $16,000 over the limit. They’ll have to pay 75 percent of that (or whatever they truly end up being over the pool amount) , which is almost literally couch change for them. They were able to go $97,993 over their allotted bonus pool without suffering any consequences (other than taxes). If so, then they have about $713,093 left to spend on July 2 prospects for the 2014-15 period.
The new signing period begins two weeks from today. Until that time, there will be no international signings. The Dodgers will infuse their system with premium, young talent. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see the Dodgers end up with Alvarez, Heredia and Ronny Brito. They also are the front-runners for Lucius Fox, Jr., who would have been a 1st-round pick 10 days ago if he were draft eligible. Fox could an should get a larger bonus than Heredia but not as much as Alvarez.
All of this should happen within the first few days of the period. The Dodgers are truly going to get their money’s worth later in the year when some presently unknown Cubans, Dominicans, Venezuelans, et al, pop up and the Dodgers can outbid any team for their services. They are going to pay a ton of money to do this (basically a dollar-for-dollar tax), but it’ll be worth it because if there’s one thing the Dodgers have enough of, it’s money.