ATLANTA -- The Braves added to their flexibility on the international market on Monday, when they traded Minor League reliever Aaron Kurcz to the A's in exchange for the 113th international bonus pool slot, which is valued at $167,000.
With this trade, the Braves were permitted to sign Juan Morales, a 16-year-old shortstop from Venezuela, without being restricted from signing a significant international prospect next year because of the penalties that are attached to exceeding the allotted international bonus pool.
The Braves have added approximately $1.3 million to their international bonus pool with the five slots they have gained via four trades completed dating back to Thursday. These moves allowed them to sign this year's top targets -- Derian Cruz, Cristian Pache and Morales -- without being significantly restricted within the international market next year, when they are expected to once again be very aggressive
Cruz ($2 million signing bonus) and Pache ($1.4 million) signed with the Braves on Friday. MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez reported Morales signed for $450,000.
Teams that exceed the pools by zero to 5 percent have to pay 100 percent tax, and teams that exceed the pools by five to 10 percent are not allowed to sign a player for more than $500,000 during the next signing period. They also have to pay a 100 percent tax on the pool overage. Teams that exceed the pools by 10 to 15 percent are not allowed to sign a player for more than $300,000 during the next signing period, and have to pay a 100 percent tax on the pool overage.
In the most severe penalty, teams that exceed the pool by 15 percent or more are not allowed to sign a player for more than $300,000 during the next two signing periods, in addition to paying a 100 percent tax on the pool overage.
The Braves acquired Kurcz from the Red Sox in exchange for Anthony Varvaro this past offseason. Kurcz posted a 3.27 ERA, while recording 38 strikeouts and issuing 21 walks over 33 innings for Triple-A Gwinnett this season. Opponents hit .232 and compiled a .345 on-base percentage against him.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.