In accordance with the international signing guidelines, the Cubs, Dodgers, Giants and Royals will not be able to ink any international pool-eligible players for more than $300,000 during the next two periods after having exceeded their bonus pool by more than 15 percent during the current period. Additionally, this could mean those clubs would lose out on the chance to sign top Cuban prospects and pool-eligible players such as pitchers Adrian Morejon, 17, Norge Ruiz, 22, Cionel Perez, 20, Michel Baez, 20, and outfielder Jorge Ona, 19. Those Cuban players who have not yet been declared free agents by Major League Baseball, and they are all expected to sign for more than $300,000.
It's unclear if any of those clubs have been linked to Cuban players who have not been cleared to sign. Cuban players who are at least 23 years old who have played in a Cuban professional league for five or more seasons are exempt from the international signing guidelines.
What we know is that the Cubs, Dodgers, Giants and Royals are on track to join the Angels, D-backs, Rays, Red Sox and Yankees among those clubs who have exceeded their bonus pool and can't sign prospects for more than $300,000 until 2017. Also on the list are the Blue Jays, who will not be able to sign any pool-eligible players for more than $300,000 during the '16 signing period after exceeding their bonus pool during the '15 signing period.
Filling the void for those teams during the upcoming period are the Braves, Cardinals, Nationals, Padres and Reds, who have been very aggressive on the 2016-17 international market and have been linked to several players on MLBPipeline.com's Top 30 International Prospects list. The Athletics, Brewers, Phillies and Rangers also expect to bring in a good crop of players during the upcoming period.
How the overall landscape for signing international players, the bonus pools and penalty system will work in the years to come is to be determined. Commissioner Rob Manfred has said changes could be made to the signing system in the future -- in part because of the influx of Cuban talent -- and the issue will be discussed during labor negotiations. The current Collective Bargaining Agreement is set to expire on Dec. 1.
For now, some clubs have decided that once they have gone over that 15 percent threshold, they might as well keep spending, since they will not be able to compete for the top international amateurs for two more years.
The Cubs, Dodgers, Giants and Royals are soon to be the latest example.