Major League Baseball’s international signing period officially began on Sunday, January 15 and runs through December 15.
For the Los Angeles Dodgers, this represents the opportunity to upgrade an already-deep farm system, but they have just $4,144,000 in bonus pool money to work with, which is tied with the Texas Rangers for the least amount available to spend.
Because the Dodgers surpassed the luxury tax threshold and signed Freddie Freeman last year, they had to forfeit $1 million of their available funds.
Teams can spend beyond their allotted bonus pool amount if international prospects are signed for $10,000 or less. Teams can also increase or decrease their total bonus pool allotment through trades in increments of $250,000, unless they have less than $250,000 remaining in their pool.
International prospects that are eligible to be signed include any player who resides outside of the United States, Canada or Puerto Rico and has not been enrolled in high school in any of those locations within the past calendar year.
The player must be at least 16 years of age or will turn 16 years of age prior to Sept. 1 of the current signing period. Any player meeting that criteria who registered with MLB becomes eligible to sign a Minor League contract with a club for a signing bonus that fits within said team’s allotted pool.
International players who are not eligible to sign through this process are defined as players who are at least 25 years of age and have played as a professional in a foreign league recognized by Major League Baseball for a minimum of six seasons.
Many of the prospects available this signing period have already agreed to terms with clubs in under-the-table contracts, and some have had deals in place for multiple years already.
The Dodgers reportedly signed Joendry Vargas, a 17-year-old shortstop out of the Dominican Republic who is ranked as the No. 3 overall prospect in the class by MLB Pipeline. Scouting reports say Vargas has five-tool potential, and despite his 6-3 frame, he can handle the position well, even if his future might be at the hot corner.
L.A. is also expected to sign Arnaldo Lantigua, a 17-year-old center fielder out of the Dominican Republic, who is ranked as the 24th overall international prospect by MLB Pipeline. Lantigua has plus-power and the potential to stay in center field long term, but his bat is his true calling card.
It would be an impressive class for the Dodgers if they officially agree to terms with both of those players, especially considering their lack of bonus pool funds. Along with those two, they are likely to replenish their farm with up to 50 international signings.
Dodgers history of international signings
During the last international signing period, the Dodgers signed multiple top-end talents in Samuel Muñoz, Accimia Morales and Mairo Martinus. The previous signing period saw them land Wilman Diaz, Rayne Doncon and Jesus Galiz.
Some other noteworthy players from their recent signing periods include Diego Cartaya, Jose Ramos, Hyun-il Choi, Eddys Leonard, Jorbit Vivas, Edwin Uceta, Erisbel Arruebarrena, Yadier Alvarez, Yordan Alvarez, Yusniel Diaz, ONeil Cruz and Keibert Ruiz.
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