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Changes Coming to International Free Agency

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The Pirates spent $2.6 M on Luis Heredia in 2010.

We’ve heard a lot about the Collective Bargaining Agreement talks as it pertains to the draft and free agency.  Melissa Segura of Sports Illustrated tweeted a CBA update on the changes that could be coming to the international market.  Segura reports that the new CBA is said to include a hard cap and floor for international signings.

This raises a lot of questions, specifically centering around the definition of “international signings”.  I assume this means players from the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, and the other usual sources of international talent.  I wouldn’t imagine this would include Japan or Cuba, since those players are seen more as MLB free agents, rather than international free agents.  The current prices for the Japanese and Cuban talent would make it impossible to impose a cap, especially when you talk about a guy like Yu Darvish, who could make $100 M.

Neither a cap nor a floor would really affect the Pirates.  They’ve spent on the international market the last few years, but haven’t dominated the spending like they have in the draft.  The only year a cap would have really affected them would have been in 2010, when they spent $5 M, with $2.6 M going to Luis Heredia.  This past year they spent $2.3 M on reported bonuses, although that figure only includes the bonuses paid to Harold Ramirez, Elvis Escobar, Cesar Lopez, and Leandro Rodriguez.

I’m more supportive of limiting spending in the international market than I am in the draft.  Teams hold exclusive negotiating rights with their draft picks.  The Pirates don’t have to worry about teams like the Yankees in the draft.  In the international market, a team like the Yankees could easily outbid the Pirates on a player if they really wanted the guy.  In 2010 the Yankees spent $5.27 M on international free agents, which was $270 K more than the Pirates.

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Tim Williams
Tim Williams
Tim is the owner, producer, editor, and lead writer of PiratesProspects.com. He has been running Pirates Prospects since 2009, becoming the first new media reporter and outlet covering the Pirates at the MLB level in 2011 and 2012. His work can also be found in Baseball America, where he has been a contributor since 2014 and the Pirates' correspondent since 2019.

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