International Signing Period Pushed Back to January

The international signing period won’t start on July 2nd this year like it usually does. The opening day of the signing period is now January 15, 2021 according to Baseball America. It will run until December 15th.

Ben Badler from BA previewed the Pittsburgh Pirates and their potential signing class earlier this month. We noted in that article that the date was likely to get pushed back and the bonus pool would also likely be just short of $6,000,000. The actual total is out and the Pirates will have $5,899,600. What we didn’t already know is that teams won’t be allowed to trade international bonus pool space. In the past, they could acquire up to 60% of their pool in trades. For example, if they had a $5M pool, they could add as much as $3M via trade. That inability to add dollars means that the Pirates will be spending most of their money on the first day of the signing period, with no chance to add to their pool.

The Pirates are the favorites to sign highly rated outfielder Shalin Polanco for $2.5M (see article above). They are also favorites to land Dominican right-handed pitcher Darlin Diaz for $500,000. Those two alone will be more than half of their pool if those numbers are correct. There are six other noteworthy players in that article, plus there are likely to be more signings on day one. Most day one signings get six-figure deals, so January 15th looks like it will be a large portion of their signings.

The Pirates had the highest bonus pool in the majors (along with a few other teams) last year, so they drop down to the second highest this upcoming period. In exchange for the lower bonus pool, they got a higher draft pick in the competitive balance rounds. When the international pool is higher, the draft pick is lower, and it changes every year.