Welcome to international signing day. Today is the day when 16 year olds from the countries of the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Korea, and many more countries around the world sign their first major league contract. Although this seems irrelevant to a team's success, many of these players could turn into the next major league superstar.
Xander Bogaerts of the Boston Red Sox was signed as an international free agent in 2009. Abraham Almonte of the New York Yankees was signed as an international free agent in 2005. Melky Cabrera of the Toronto Blue Jays was signed by the Yankees as an international free agent in 2001. There are major league players that have come from this background, starting off in professional baseball as a baby-faced 16-year-old, and turning into a good major league player.
The international signing day has its top prospects too, just like the MLB Draft and the minor leagues. Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com posted his top-30 international signing prospects, all of which are expected to sign and begin their professional baseball career today. I will be running a tracker posting all of the top-30 signings throughout the day today. International signing day is really crucial to a major league team's future success.
There are some rules to the day, however. Steve Adams of MLBTradeRumors.com wrote a nice piece on all of the rules. Here a few to take note of; a player must be 17-years-old by September 1, 2015 (the completion of their first full minor league season); players who are 23-years-old or older and have been playing professional baseball for three years are exempt from international signing pools (e.g. Yasiel Puig); every team must remain in its individual signing pool amount (consequences occur if not done so). Teams are able to trade for extra pool money.
Adams shared a good example of teams trading for extra pool money. The White Sox have a $4.273 million total pool and are allowed to acquire 50% of it, which evens out to about $2.1 million. The Cubs cannot trade the White Sox $2.1 million, they have to trade them one of their slot values, which are $2.288 million, $458,000, $309,000 and $207,000. The first slot value would be too expensive for the White Sox to acquire, so they would have to trade a slot of theirs that is of small value to even it out.
Ben Badler of Baseball America reported the international signing pools for every team back in April. The Houston Astros, being the worst team in 2013, get the largest total pool value, as they can spend up to $5,015,400 in international free agents. The pool amount for every team following the Astros is a little bit smaller. The pool values follow the 2013 records (just like the MLB Draft), so the St. Louis Cardinals round out the pack, with only $1,866,300 to spend. Every other team's pool value is somewhere in between.
Be sure to follow along with the international signing day using my international signing day tracker, which I will update throughout the day. Expect a fun day of projections of players' future performances, money offered to unknowns, and just watching your team build for the future.