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  • International Signing Preview

    Over the course of the last week or so, a lot of news regarding the International Signing Period has come out.

    Up until July of 2012, International Free Agency has been a free-for-all. In the 2010-11 period, the Mariners spent $6.47 million. Four teams spent $5 million or more. Five teams spent less than a million dollars. The Twins, middle-of-the-pack spenders, spent $2.54 million.

    The following spending period (July 2011 - June 2012) was the final opportunity for teams, under the old guidelines, to spend however they wanted. The Rangers spent a ridiculous $12.83 million. The Blue Jays spent $7.57 million. Two more teams (that typically spend more than the Twins), the Royals and Mariners both spent over $6 million. Only three teams spent less than a million dollars (the Dodgers, White Sox, Orioles and Nationals are teams that have limited their International budget recently), while the Twins stayed middle-of-the-pack again, spending $2.31 million.


    Sano undergoing DNA testing in July of 2009
    in an effort to prove his age and identity.

    The New York Times - Breaking News, World News & Multimedia

    Finding accurate data going back much further is difficult, but it should be pointed out that Miguel Sano signed with the Twins for $3.15 million in September of 2009. That is clearly the exception and not the rule. It would be safe to say their budget is normally in the $2.5 million range; and while they won't "spend just to spend", they will open their pocketbooks for players they feel are worth it.

    So what's the big deal? Well, starting in the July 2012 - June 2013 period, all teams had $2.9 million to spend. It wasn't a "hard cap" per se, but there were penalties if you exceeded that amount. (The Rays, for example, exceeded their cap by so much they won't be able to sign anyone for over $250,000 in the 2013-14 signing class.) Final amounts won't be in until June, but Terry Ryan said in a radio interview earlier this winter that he "suspected" the Twins would use most, if not the entire amount.

    Let's fast-forward to July of this year. First off, let's hope there is no more snow on the ground. Secondly, let's talk about the changes that have happened (again) in regard to International spending. Ben Badler of Baseball America does a great job in a series of posts explaining exactly how it will all work. Matt Garrioch at minorleagueball.com examined the fairness of the "new spending pools". All are excellent reads if you're into it.

    Instead of giving you the overview on all of baseball, I'm going to break it down for you from the Twins perspective because, well, that's why you're here.

    As baseball pushes towards an International Draft, you'll see similarities between the International spending period and the Rule 4 draft. For starters, there are penalties for exceeding your pool. And starting this year, the worst teams are allowed the largest pools. The Twins have the 4th pick in the Rule 4 draft; they also are being afforded the fourth-largest spending pool in International Free Agency: $3,908,600. (This is done in an effort to steer the most sought-after amateurs to the teams with the most money - the worst teams.)

    Now, I referenced the Twins as not being a "spend-it-just-to-spend-it" team and also referred to their penchant to typically spend somewhere around $2.5 million. So what good does it do them to have nearly four million dollars?

    I'm glad you want to know, because here's the newest (and, for the Twins, probably most beneficial) wrinkle for signing International youngsters: the ability to trade portions of your signing pool.

    The Twins will enter July with five slots:
    #4 - $2,250,700
    #34 - $450,400
    #64 - $304,200
    #94 - $203,300
    Flat pool - $700,000

    All teams have a standard 700K pool that they cannot trade, in addition to their four slots. Teams are limited to only adding 50% of their cap. So if the Twins were interested, they could add an additional $2 million to their signing pool through trades.

    A more likely scenario could see the Twins dealing some of their pool away. Badler suggests in this piece that the Twins could trade all but slot #4 and still have $3 million to spend.

    Here are a of couple scenarios that might give you an idea of how this could benefit the Twins:

    The Rangers currently have a pool just short of $2 million. They could add up to half of that to have a pool of $2.9 million (their limit this year, which they found a way to circumvent anyway).

    The Blue Jays, who have spent nearly $12 million over the last two years, have only $2.8 million to spend, but could get their pool up to $4.2 million through trades.

    If it's July and the Twins aren't in contention and the Rangers or Blue Jays come sniffing around Justin Morneau or Josh Willingham, this could give the Twins a chance to turn part of their pool (and money they probably wouldn't spend anyway) into a prospect. Or maybe it turns a prospect into a better prospect. Pretty good shake for the Twins, if you ask me.

    Obviously, July 2 is a long way off, but when the time comes, the Twins are going to have money to spend. The name that is already connected to the Twins is OF Micker Zapata. Zapata is a big (6-3, 225) outfielder currently training in the Dominican Republic. Zapata, however, is a very rare commodity in the International class: He was born in St. Thomas, grew up speaking English and will have that advantage as he tries to adjust to affiliated baseball (and probably play in the GCL at 17). The Twins place an emphasis on learning the language. They also, recently, have placed an emphasis on right-handed power. Zapata fits this bill perfectly. Zapata might be in line for a bonus in the $1.5-$1.75 range and the Twins are going to be one of the few teams in baseball with the cash to meet those demands.

    Despite early reports suggesting this international class isn't going to be a great one, it can only benefit the Twins to have assets available when assets are limited.
    This article was originally published in blog: International Signing Preview started by Jeremy Nygaard
    Comments 204 Comments
    1. kab21's Avatar
      kab21 -
      There's that but you saw bigger shifts from several small/mid markets teams (Pirates and Royals notably) at the same time. I think it just became evident that teams needed to be involved internationally to stay competitive. I'm just glad that the Twins are now involved internationally since they basically ignored it until a couple of years ago.
    1. johnnydakota's Avatar
      johnnydakota -
      Bill Smith returned the twins to the international market....
    1. Pitz's Avatar
      Pitz -
      Jason Parks of Baseball Prospectus saw Micker Zapata at a showcase in January. The link to his notes on the event is here. Says he was the best player at the showcase with 7+ power.
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      Quote Originally Posted by kab21 View Post
      diehard is still believes the Twins are in the pre-Sano (pre-Target Field) mindset. Something changed that year and although I don't recall the Twins spending 1M+ (on one prospect) for a couple of years they were significantly more active internationally after that.
      I'm not sure if they are in Metrodome mindset or not. What I do think is that given that the international free spending was ending and the fact that the Twins were awful, they should have spent as much money as possible there.
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      I should also note that Garrioch had a really good article over at minorleagueball regarding an international draft. I'm really curious how this will play out. I do think that they need to do something to ensure that the bad teams get the best players to improve competitive balance, but short of MLB taking over all the academies, I'm not sure how it will be done.
    1. Jeremy Nygaard's Avatar
      Jeremy Nygaard -
      Quote Originally Posted by diehardtwinsfan View Post
      I should also note that Garrioch had a really good article over at minorleagueball regarding an international draft. I'm really curious how this will play out. I do think that they need to do something to ensure that the bad teams get the best players to improve competitive balance, but short of MLB taking over all the academies, I'm not sure how it will be done.
      I linked his story in the article. Its a good read.
    1. maxisagod's Avatar
      maxisagod -
      Quote Originally Posted by diehardtwinsfan View Post
      but short of MLB taking over all the academies, I'm not sure how it will be done.
      Just because a player goes to a specific team's academy doesn't mean he has to sign with that team. That player can do work outs at other academies and still can have their agents reach out to other teams. The Twins had this guy named Miguel Cabrera, who went to their Venezuelan academy. It was one of the closest academies located near where Miguel was from. In the end the Twins got outbid. The Twins had bid high and the Marlins had bid higher.

      No system will ever be completely fair. It will either favor the teams who have the best scouts or the most cash to spend. The top money guys are the ones everyone has heard of, but you do need a strong presence in a region to find the diamonds in the rough.
    1. kab21's Avatar
      kab21 -
      Quote Originally Posted by diehardtwinsfan View Post
      I should also note that Garrioch had a really good article over at minorleagueball regarding an international draft. I'm really curious how this will play out. I do think that they need to do something to ensure that the bad teams get the best players to improve competitive balance, but short of MLB taking over all the academies, I'm not sure how it will be done.
      I think the bonus pools does that pretty well. I would also be concerned about MLB taking over the academies and not expanding the network. right now if teams see an opportunity in a new place (like Brazil) they spend the big bucks to be there. that might not happen with MLB running the show. There was also some speculation that Puerto Rico participating in the MLB draft led to a nationwide decline of baseball. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/17/sp...anted=all&_r=0
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Quote Originally Posted by diehardtwinsfan View Post
      Honestly given the Twins record, they should have been one of the top spenders in FA and landed whatever they liked. I'm a bit disappointed they did not. That said, I hope they either spend their allotment, or trade it for a decent prospect. I have no issue with tem adding part of their bonus pool to another team to get a higher ceiling prospect assuming of course they aren't terribly high on what they'd be signing.
      There is something really simple against that logic:
      You need to have the right prospects to spend $$. And really after Sano, if you exclude the Cubans, there have not been many of those kind of prospects.

      Spending $ just to spend does not make any sense (even though Ryan does it with veteran FAs.) If you are getting the equivalent of a 10th-round (rule 4) draft pick (or even an equivalent prospect if you trade the international slot) in a 16 year old AFA whom you have to pay $750K to sign, you better not spend the $ that way. If there is value, spend (and overspend,) if not, it is a waste.
    1. Twins Twerp's Avatar
      Twins Twerp -
      Quote Originally Posted by thrylos98 View Post
      There is something really simple against that logic:
      You need to have the right prospects to spend $$. And really after Sano, if you exclude the Cubans, there have not been many of those kind of prospects.

      Spending $ just to spend does not make any sense (even though Ryan does it with veteran FAs.) If you are getting the equivalent of a 10th-round (rule 4) draft pick (or even an equivalent prospect if you trade the international slot) in a 16 year old AFA whom you have to pay $750K to sign, you better not spend the $ that way. If there is value, spend (and overspend,) if not, it is a waste.
      I might be misreading or not understanding your post. Are you saying that there are not a lot of sure fire prospects internationally...or that there are not others that work out? I look at the current syatem and see it a lot like the draft...crapshoot. I agree not to spend money just because but...the more money you throw out into the international market...the more fish you hook. Just look at the top prospects in baseball. In fact you wouod find it hard to find a decent SS prospect who is not a latin american player today.
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Quote Originally Posted by Twins Twerp View Post
      In fact you wouod find it hard to find a decent SS prospect who is not a latin american player today.
      Agreed. But what will give you more bang for you buck at the same price? A decent average hit above average field SS, a 100 mph fireballer with a plus secondary pitch and a third work in progress pitch, or someone with decent contact and 40+ HR potential with so-so glove.

      In my book, the SS would be ranked 3 (with the same $)
    1. Jeremy Nygaard's Avatar
      Jeremy Nygaard -
      According to Ben Badler, the Twins are showing strong interest in Lewin Diaz. Diaz is a big lefty who draws body comps to David Ortiz and is said to be getting seven figures. There's more behind BA's paywall.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Agreed, Bill Smith, thankfully, was the GM that brought them back into spending. I am so happy he was GM when some of these guys were there.....
    1. nicksaviking's Avatar
      nicksaviking -
      So the Phillies signed German 17-year-old Julsan Kamara. I thought the Twins had the market cornered on German prospects. He's an outfielder though, I guess the Twins can focus their International budget elsewhere.

      Has anyone heard any updates on Aledmys Diaz? Is MLB going to take it's sweet time with the age investigation and cause him to wait an extra year to sign regardless of the findings?
    1. birdwatcher's Avatar
      birdwatcher -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      Agreed, Bill Smith, thankfully, was the GM that brought them back into spending. I am so happy he was GM when some of these guys were there.....
      Again, Bill Smith didn't decide to spend more, and Bill Smith didn't decide to invest more heavily in the international market. Many people were involved in these decisions. Prior to his short stint as GM, Bill Smith eaded up the group responsible for building up the organization's capacity internationally.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Quote Originally Posted by birdwatcher View Post
      Again, Bill Smith didn't decide to spend more, and Bill Smith didn't decide to invest more heavily in the international market. Many people were involved in these decisions. Prior to his short stint as GM, Bill Smith eaded up the group responsible for building up the organization's capacity internationally.
      you know, this post reply by me was just bickering, so I deleted it. I'm going to try to stick to the topic, and not argue over stuff like this.
    1. cmb0252's Avatar
      cmb0252 -
      Baseball America released this article; Ten International Prospects to Watch for July 2nd.
      Ten International Prospects To Watch For July 2 - BaseballAmerica.com

      One thing I noticed was the article said the following, "The Red Sox, Royals, Blue Jays and Twins all have top 10 pool allotments and should all be in the mix to sign seven-figure players this year." While that isn't a surprise but the fact the Twins are not linked to any of the prospects in the article is. The article is riddled with X team is the favorite or Y team has been linked to player Z with no mention of the Twins. This doesn't mean they won't sign one of them but it is a little odd even with the Twins being historically tight lipped.
    1. rickyhawaii's Avatar
      rickyhawaii -
      lewin diaz looks like he'd be a good prospect. i wonder if the twins have much interest in Jen-ho Tseng from Taiwan. the twins have been a little active in that market. Kuo hua lo and Chih wei hu
    1. maxisagod's Avatar
      maxisagod -
      Quote Originally Posted by nicksaviking View Post
      So the Phillies signed German 17-year-old Julsan Kamara. I thought the Twins had the market cornered on German prospects. He's an outfielder though, I guess the Twins can focus their International budget elsewhere.
      Kamara was signed with last years international pool. The Twins already spent most, if not all of their budget from last year. In early July they'll be able to spend on international guys again.
    1. drjim's Avatar
      drjim -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      Agreed, Bill Smith, thankfully, was the GM that brought them back into spending. I am so happy he was GM when some of these guys were there.....
      I would argue that Bill Smith just happened to be GM when Target Field was approved/opened so he could reap the windfall of increased budgets in all areas of operations. It has stayed at appropriate levels under Ryan and appears it will again this year.
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