Implications of Red Sox’ Ban from International Signing Period

Yesterday, Baseball America’s Ben Badler reported that Major League Baseball was going to levy penalties against the Boston Red Sox due to improprieties perpetrated during last year’s International Signing Period. Today, Jeff Passan at Yahoo! Sports elaborated on that report. I’ve spoken with several international scouts about this news in an attempt to gauge the implications not only for the Red Sox but for the international market in general. The results of those inquiries appear below.

Some background on the issue

Boston was in the J2 penalty box last year as a result of the Yoan Moncada signing the year before. They signed two Venezuelan prospects from the same training program last year, both for $300,000, and a third from that program for $200,000. MLB has found that the best of those three prospects, a catcher/outfielder named Albert Guaimaro, received most of that money. This allowed Boston to acquire a player whom they wouldn’t have been able to sign (since being in the J2 penalty box means you can’t sign players for more than $300K), the agent makes more money and two prospects who otherwise may not have had an opportunity to play in a Major League organization now have that chance. As a result of MLB’s findings, five players signed by the Red Sox during last year’s period will be declared free agents and the club is now banned from signing any international prospects during the Int’l Signing Period that begins tomorrow.

Who did the Red Sox lose from last year’s class?

The aforementioned Guaimaro is the best of the group. He ranked 23rd on Kiley McDaniel’s J2 board from last year and would slot in at the 17th spot on my board from this year. He has bat speed and some power but isn’t a lock to stay up the middle, whether it’s at center field (where he’s played in the DSL this year) or catcher, where some scouts who saw him as an amateur thought his body fit best. We have buggy video here. Simon Muzziotti, a Venezuelan outfielder, runs well enough to have a chance to play center field but is weak with the bat and doesn’t profile as much more than a bench outfielder, if that. He would have made the sortable board as an unranked player after the top 25. The three other prospects who will be declared free agents are Edwardo Torrealba, Antonio Pinero and Cesar Gonzalez. All project as org players. The Red Sox were expected to have a modest class of signees this year, most of them Venezuelan, with the most highly touted of those being OF Roimer Bolivar, who has a traditional right-field profile with some arm strength and power projection but is also very raw.

What does this mean for the rest of baseball?

The implications of this specific ruling are circumstantially modest because the prospects whom the Red Sox lost are not top-of-the-class, multi-million-dollar talents. But teams invest a lot of time and money into scouting and acquiring players, and the scouts who spend time with and get to know these players invest much more than their team’s cash in courting them. Had this ruling come down on the head of a team that had a banner class last year or was planning on having one this season, it would be an absolute bombshell.

The international scouts to whom I’ve spoken think that, at the very least, teams will be more careful with their dealing than they’ve been to this point since MLB has now shown a willingness to actually do something about their machinations. Those same sources think this may just be the beginning of MLB shortening leashes in Latin America. One source told me he thought these rulings might force teams to adjust some of the deals they have in place for this year. Some find the rulings amusing or hypocritical because the bonus restrictions that MLB has in place for Latin American teenagers, which exist solely to suppress the amounts of money these kids can receive, incentivize this kind of behavior by teams.

Eric Longenhagen is from Catasauqua, PA and currently lives in Tempe, AZ. He spent four years working for the Phillies Triple-A affiliate, two with Baseball Info Solutions and two contributing to prospect coverage at Previous work can also be found at Sports On Earth, CrashburnAlley and Prospect Insider.

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Poor Mans Rick Reedmember
7 years ago

Hmmm… this article is a well sourced, concise, and useful summation of news that I care about that doesn’t make me question my own existence. I’ll bet Cistulli didn’t actually write it.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still on #teamSchrock.

*Edit* Never mind, he fixed it. But it doesn’t fix me. Or you.

7 years ago

No sentence and comparison along the lines of “The rules-skirting package deal that is life” tipped me off that it wasn’t Cistulli.