MLB international signing period primer

USA TODAY Sports

How the July 2 signing period works.

With the 2014 MLB draft behind us, and 30 of the first 34 picks already under contract or agreed to terms, the truly sick among us are looking for their next fix. Fortunately, they didn't have to wait long, as the international signing period opened on Wednesday. The international signing period, which begins on July 2 every year, covers amateur players who are not from the United States, Canada or Puerto Rico.

The international signing period runs from July 2 through June 15 of the following season, with a dead period from June 15-July 2, followed by the next signing period. As part of the current CBA, there is a cap on how much money clubs can spend on amateur talent within each signing period, with each team receiving a different "bonus pool" based on their record from the previous season.

Bonus Pools

Bonus pools are assigned and broken down over four separate values with additional money being granted to teams based on their record from the season prior. $700,000 is then added to each club's total allotment. Signing bonuses of $10,000 or less do not count against the international spending cap. Baseball America has a breakdown of each team's bonus pool for the 2014-15 international period, along with each specific slot value. Teams are eligible to trade these bonus slots with the restriction that each team can only acquire up to 50 percent of it's original bonus pool. If a club acquires more than 50% of it's original bonus pool, MLB will reduce the original bonus pool by 150 percent. Basically, do not acquire more than your original bonus pool.

Penalties

The penalties for teams exceeding their international bonus spending caps are as follows:

  • All overages are taxed at 100 percent.
  • Exceed bonus pool by 5 to 10 percent: Team is not allowed to sign a player for more than $500K in the following international signing period.
  • Exceed by 10 to 15 percent: Team is not allowed to sign a player for more than $300K in the following international signing period.
  • Exceed by more than 15 percent: Team is not allowed to sign a player for more than $300K in the following two international signing periods.

Exceptions

All players who are not subject to the Rule 4 draft are covered by the international signing period with a few notable exceptions. They are as follows:

  • A player who is 23 years old and has played in a Cuban professional league for at least five seasons.
  • A player who is 23 years old and has played in a professional league recognized by the Commissioner's office are not considered amateurs.
  • A player who has previous signed a contract to play in MLB or MiLB is not considered an amateur.

The five seasons as a Cuban professional player is a bit of a change from the previous iteration of this rule that only required three seasons as a professional in a Cuban league. Check out who each team has signed on Baseball America's team-by-team tracker, as more than 60 players signed on the opening day of the period.

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