July 2 may be just another day to most folks, two days shy of fireworks and hot dogs and ice cream and parades. But to baseball nerds, July 2 is a sacred day: it’s the open of a new International Free Agent period.
International Free Agency, unlike typical free agency, deals with younger, international amateurs being signed to the first contracts of their career. And much like NBA and NFL free agency, things get nuts right away when the period opens up, because many of the young players and their handlers already – eh hem – have a good sense of where they’re signing.
By way of reminder, every organization in baseball has a certain pool from which they can toss out signing bonuses to these players. That pool, which is a little bigger for small market teams and a little smaller for large market teams, is fixed. There’s no blowing out your budget and paying a tax anymore. The only way to spend over your bonus pool limit is to trade with another MLB team for additional bonus pool space.
The Cubs’ bonus pool for this period is just about $5.4 million – one of the smaller pools, thanks to their market size – though they could add to that pool via trades if there is a need. [Edit: My bad, as I forgot they DID already add to the pool in a $750,000 trade for Pedro Araujo. So the pool is actually up to $6.15 million.]
Much of that pool will be gobbled up immediately today when agreements the Cubs are expected to finalize put into place.
Something else you might see today? Trades.
Not only might you see bonus pool trades happen quickly to accommodate signings, sometimes bonus pool space gets attached to larger trades, and today’s opening of IFA is the trigger for those deals to happen.
Last year, the Cubs signed a number of top prospects immediately – including the top pitching prospect in the class, Richard Gallardo – and that figures to be the same this year. The Cubs have already been attached to a trio of the top 30 prospects in the class:
The #Cubs are considered the favorites to sign 3 of the players on our brand-new Top 30 International Prospects list — Ronnier Quintero, Kevin Made & Brayan Altuve: https://t.co/yYZ7Flg8NY pic.twitter.com/MwPekJHqlk
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) May 8, 2019
BN: Cubs International Free Agency Plans Coming Into Focus https://t.co/cZ0Hcg2kqM
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) May 10, 2019
Now we find out what agreements are actually put into place, and what additional prospects the Cubs land.