The New York Yankees are expected to continue spending big on the international free agent market, according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports. The team is interested in re-stocking its farm system, and the international market is often an effective way to add talent quickly at an affordable price.
New York has already exceeded its bonus pool allotment of $1,877,000, thanks to the signings of Dominican center fielder Leonardo Molina ($1.4 million) and shortstop Yonauris Rodriguez ($550,000). The signings put the team around 3.8% over the limit; if they exceed the threshold by at least 15%, then they incur the maximum penalty, which consists of a 100% tax on the excess amount they spend above the limit and the inability to sign any international players for more than $250,000 in next year's signing period. They will reach the maximum penalty if they spend at least another $282,000 in this year's signing period, which started on July 2 and extends through next summer.
It should be noted that the Yankees' pursuit of Japanese pitching phenom Masahiro Tanaka does not have any effect on the team's bonus pool. Tanaka is immune to bonus pool considerations due to the fact that he is over the age of 23 (just turned 25) and is coming from Japan's professional league. The Yankees' desire to spend on international free agents this winter is the opposite of their strategy at the major league level; the team's desire to keep its major league payroll below the luxury tax threshold in 2014 has been well documented. This contrast makes sense; building from within with cheap, unproven talent is a great way to field a quality team with a more efficient payroll.