Yankees plan to spend record amount internationally, pay penalties

Leon Halip

The team plans to "shatter" the record for international free agent signings this summer.

In an effort to improve a struggling farm system, the Yankees are poised to take an aggressive approach to this summer's international market, according to Kiley McDaniel of ScoutingBaseball.com.

The international signing period begins every year on July 2, and has been a valuable resource for the Yankees in the past, producing players such as Robinson Cano, Alfonso Soriano, and many others.

McDaniel cites a disappointing 2013 season at the major-league and minor-league levels as the impetus for the Yankees' aggressive outline. The team could also benefit in future efforts to limit spending in MLB free agency by adding to a farm system that was recently ranked 16th by Baseball America.

New York's focus on building a strong minor league system might be an attempt at returning to the philosophy that resulted in their dynastic run through the late-90s and early-2000s. Those teams appeared in six World Series from 1996 to 2003, and featured a roster comprised of several homegrown contributors -- something the club has struggled to produce in recent years.

If the Yanks decide to spend at record levels this summer -- $12 million to $15 million, according to McDaniel -- they will be forced to pay penalties in the neighborhood of $10 million to $12 million. That total would smash the record of $15 million that the Rangers set in 2011. McDaniel cites the Rangers approach that season in describing the Yankees' intended strategy, calling the resemblance "striking." However, there's a consensus among rival executives that this year's talent pool is merely average compared to the group the 2011 crop. Some of those executives also believe the Yankees already have agreements in place with some of the top prospects in the class, of which only one or two are considered to be elite-level talents.

There have been whispers about the installment of an international draft to standardize the process of acquiring foreign prospects, but the boundless nuance in designing such a massive arrangement could take several years to mold into a functioning structure. McDaniel suggests that the current system is unlikely to change over the next three years of the new collective bargaining agreement.

As it stands now, The Yankees will be able to attack the international market very aggressively, in hopes that the players they bring in can help them build a stronger farm system. International prospects are incredibly difficult to project since they're often signed as teenagers, but New York appears ready to take the risk on several of the top players available in Latin America.

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