MLB has announced the international bonus pools for the year beginning on July 2, 2018. The Pirates get $5,504,500, a slight increase over last year. They’re in the second-highest pool group, with six teams getting $6,025,400.
The twist here is that eight teams are still under sanction for exceeding their bonus pools from prior years. Those are the Astros, Athletics, Braves, Cardinals, Nationals, Padres, Reds and White Sox. Of those, the A’s, Reds and Padres are among the teams with the same bonus pool as the Pirates or higher. None of these teams can sign any player for more than $300,000. The rules carry more weight now, too, given the penalties imposed on the Braves for using trickery to evade the $300,000 restriction.
It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out with the Pirates. Over a quarter of baseball is out of play for the top international prospects and the remaining teams face real sanctions now for exceeding their pools, unlike under the previous rules. When they signed Ji-Hwan Bae, the Pirates finally discarded their unwillingness to go beyond the mid-six figures for an international prospect. Maybe that’s the influence of new international scouting director Junior Vizcaino, but we’ll find out how much things have changed.