MLB.com Columnist

Jesse Sanchez

International signing period primer for 2016-17

International signing period primer for 2016-17

The start of the international signing period is months away, but teams have been hard at work scouting prospects across Latin America and the Caribbean since last summer, in search of future stars.

The Padres, Braves and Nationals have been very aggressive on the international market, and each team expects to have a solid class of prospects for the next international signing period that starts July 2. Milwaukee, St. Louis, Philadelphia and Texas have also been very busy and expect to sign a good crop of teenagers.

Those seven teams and several others will fill the void created by the Angels, Cubs, D-backs, Dodgers, Giants, Rays, Red Sox, Royals and Yankees, who will not be able to sign prospects for more than $300,000, having exceeding their bonus pools by 15 percent or more in previous international signing periods.

Excluding Cuban prospects, experts predict there will be a few players that sign in the $3 million to $4 million range, and another small group will surpass the $1 million threshold. Several other signings are expected in the $500,000 to $1 million range.

Several teams are expected to blow past their allotted bonus pools for 2016 and enter into the maximum penalty, in part because of the belief that a new system -- or possibly an international draft -- could be included in the next Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Guidelines for signing international prospects: A 16-year-old international player can sign during the period that extends from July 2 through June 15 of next year if the prospect turns 17 before Sept. 1 of this year or by the completion of his first Minor League season.

Each team is allotted a base and a bonus pool made up of four slot values based on the team's record from the previous year to spend on these prospects. Clubs are allowed to trade pool money within the period. Bonuses of $10,000 or less are exempt and do not count against the allotment.

Penalties for teams that exceed their bonus pools: Teams that exceed the pools by 0 to 5 percent have to pay a 100 percent tax, and teams that exceed the pools by 5 to 10 percent are not allowed to sign a player for more than $500,000 during the next signing period and 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 international signing guidelines do not apply to players who previously signed a contract with a Major or Minor League club, nor do they apply to players who are least 23 years old and have played as a professional in a league recognized by the Commissioner's Office for a minimum of five seasons. Cuban players who are at least 23 and have played in a Cuban professional league for five or more seasons are also exempt.

Teams that can't sign pool-eligible prospects for more than $300,000 for the next two international signing periods: The Cubs, Dodgers, Giants and Royals have all exceeded their bonus pools during the current signing period that ends June 15.

Teams already in the maximum penalty: The Angels, D-backs, Rays, Red Sox and Yankees have exceeded their bonus pools and can't sign prospects for more than $300,000 until 2017.

10 Players to Watch (eligible to sign starting July 2, 2016):
Luis Jose Almanzar, SS, Dominican Republic
Yasel Atuna, SS, Dominican Republic
Edisson Gonzalez, RHP, Panama
Abraham Gutierrez, C, Venezuela
Kevin Maitan, INF, Venezuela
Adrian Morejon, LHP, Cuba
Jorge Ona, OF, Cuba
Tirso Ornelas, OF, Mexico
Alfredo Rodriguez, SS, Cuba
Jeisson Rosario, OF, Dominican Republic

Jesse Sanchez is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.