MLB investigating Red Sox for possible international violations

Major League Baseball is looking into possible violations of the international signing guidelines by the Red Sox.

The investigation is focused on whether Boston acquired players via "package deals," funneling funds through one trainer/agent to acquire a number of amateur prospects and circumvent the international bonus pool regulations in the process.

While there is not a rule against a team signing multiple players represented by the same trainer/agent, the transfer of signing bonus money from one player to another as part of a "package deal" is prohibited under MLB rules. Clubs are also aware that signing other players represented by the advisor/trainer as a consideration for a player entering a contract with a team is considered circumvention.

Teams may be subject to fines, suspensions and loss of future signing rights for any attempt to circumvent the penalties in the system.

The investigation, first reported by Baseball America, has been ongoing for several months, and Red Sox prospects have been interviewed as part of the process, sources said. MLB strongly denied a portion of the Baseball America story that suggested consequences were mentioned to certain players in the course of questioning.

"When necessary, MLB investigates potential violations of the international signing rules and informs players that they have an obligation to tell the truth," said MLB chief legal officer Dan Halem. "Any reports of players being threatened or intimidated during these interviews are baseless and completely false."

Dave Dombrowski, Boston's president of baseball operations, told reporters he is not in a position to comment on the situation at this time.

Because they exceeded their bonus pools during the 2014-15 international signing period, the Red Sox can't sign any international prospects under the international signing guidelines for more than $300,000 until '17.

During the international signing period that started July 2, 2015, and ends on June 15, 2016, the Red Sox have signed at least 20 players for $300,000 or less, including highly regarded Venezuelan outfield prospects Albert Guaimaro, ranked No. 18 on MLB.com's Top 30 International Prospects list in '15, and outfielder Simon Muzziotti, who signed for $300,000 each.

The five players signed by the Red Sox for $300,000 during the current period are from Venezuela. Eighteen of the first 20 prospects signed by the Red Sox during the current period are from Venezuela.

Jesse Sanchez is a national reporter for MLB.com based in Phoenix. Follow him on Twitter @JesseSanchezMLB and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.