Searing hot talented international free agents have been cleared to accept offers from Bull League teams this week, an announcement from the commissioner’s office says.
In total, just 18 qualifying “international free agents” are on the market, and competition between teams to sign them will be fierce, it is anticipated.
The most interesting of the group appears to be 16-year-old Venezuelan CF Leonardo Brasco, thought to have great contact skills at the plate, and a huge, booming power swing, in addition to be fast on the base paths. Brasco is pegged as a dead-pull hitter but currently lacks defensive abilities, but after a few seasons in the minor leagues could develop into a premier hitter in 4 to 5 seasons.
The top pitching prospect from the list appears to be 17-year-old Mexican Oscar Gonzalez, a tall, lean kid with a potentially lethal curve and great pitch control.
Typically, these players would be signed to minor league contracts, but sometimes with significant signing bonuses. Those bonuses are subject to strict rules, however. Teams may spend only up to $3.5 million on international amateur free agents in a calendar year. Any team exceeding that barrier must pay a 100% luxury tax to the league.
In addition, the penalties for going over the threshold carry forward to the following season in the form of a hard signing cap. A team going over the cap by 15% could face a strict limit on the signing bonus of $583,333, and exceeding the cap by more than that amount could limit a team’s bonus to just $291,666, for the 2018 season.