The Red Sox have been banned from signing any international players during the international signing period that starts Saturday, and they had five of their international teenage prospects from Venezuela declared free agents after an investigation by Major League Baseball showed the club circumvented the international bonus-pool regulations, according to a report by Yahoo! Sports.
Because they exceeded their bonus pools during the 2014-15 international signing period by spending $62 million on Yoan Moncada, the Red Sox were unable to sign any international prospects under the international signing guidelines for more than $300,000 until '17.
But the Red Sox avoided the $300,000 threshold by packaging top prospects with lesser ones while paying them all similarly, the report said. This allowed the players' agent to give most of the money to the best prospect.
Top outfielder prospects Albert Guaimaro and Simon Muzziotti, along with infielders Antonio Pinero and Eduardo Torrealba, and right-handed pitcher Cesar Gonzalez, who all signed for $300,000, are all free to agree with any team starting Saturday, with the first $300,000 of their bonuses not counting against bonus-pool limits for the teams that sign them, according to the report. Additionally, the players will keep their original signing bonuses from Boston.
MLB.com has learned that a workout will be held for the five players on Tuesday in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, and clubs may also have the players participate in private workouts at their academies.
Guaimaro ranked No. 18 on MLB.com's Top 30 International Prospects list in '15, but none of the five players were ranked on MLBPipeline.com's Top 30 Red Sox Prospect list.
During the international signing period that started July 2, 2015, and ended on June 15, the Red Sox signed at least 20 players for $300,000 or less. In all, 18 of the first 20 prospects signed by the Red Sox during the last signing period were 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.