Pirates Spent $2.58 M in International Bonuses in 2013

Baseball America has released the 2013 International bonus estimates for each Major League team. The Pittsburgh Pirates ended up spending an estimated $2.58 M, which ranked 20th in the majors. Originally I wrote that this number had exceeded their $2.426 M bonus pool in 2013-14. However, the bonuses were just for the 2013 season, and included bonuses for the 2012-13 signing period. It appears the figures went along with Ben Badler’s article today, talking about how international spending was up in 2013, despite the new limits to restrict spending.

If the Pirates go over their bonus pool by more than 5%, they would be subject to a 75% tax and they would be restricted from spending more than $500 K on any individual player during the 2014-15 signing period. The Pirates don’t usually spend big on individual players, and they have a small bonus pool in 2014-15, so it’s unlikely that this would be a problem. However, right now the entire 2013-14 bonus pool numbers are incomplete, and they haven’t gone over the 5% limit.

  • The present system certainly unfairly discriminates against small market clubs.

    One way to beat the system though is to invest money into scouting under developed markets. The restrictions on spending only apply to the money paid to the players, not the money spent on the scouts who find the players. The highest value added activity a baseball organization can do in my opinion is to find players like Gregory Polanco who signed for what, $150k?

    Finding these high ceiling, inexpensive players is a little like the old game “Where’s Waldo”. For the Pirates it’s “Where’s Polanco?”. I think the best place to look are in the places where other teams generally aren’t looking. The Pirates innovated a bit with Rinku Singh and Jin-De Jhang. Finding one Polanco equivalent can justify a whole lot of expenditure to find him, especially when compared with the MLB Draft first round signing bonuses routinely paid. Baseball requires a combination of great eye/hand coordination and a high percentage of fast twitch to slow twitch muscle fiber ratio. In what types of populations are that combination of characteristics found? Enhancing the Pirates’ world wide search for talent by spending more on international scouting, which is still unrestricted, may be the best way for the Pirates to stay competitive.

  • Bridgevillebuc
    February 7, 2014 6:43 am

    Penalties for spending more than 2.426 million in signing bonuses?? Yet the big markets can grab Darvish, Tanaka or that Cuban first baseman for tens of millions. Then again, what is the World series without the big clubs…the MLB does not want a Tampa Bay/Oakland/Pittsburgh in the series…