In the modern game, more and more talent is coming from outside the U.S. From hotbeds in places like the Dominican Republic to Japan, there are several international stars in today’s MLB. In fact, there are over 20 countries represented in MLB, and as of 2016, over 27 percent of MLB players identified as Latino. You can see the increase in Latino players in the chart below.
The Yankees have been one of the most active teams in signing and developing players from Latin America. By my count, there are 13 players on the 40 man roster that come from Latin America, which is close to 35 percent. With such an influence on the current team, it makes sense to understand how these players are signed.
The Bonus Pool System
In the last CBA, MLB made a few changes to the Latin America signing process. They instituted what are known as international spending bonus pools and placed a hard cap on these pools. The amount of money that a team is allowed to spend is based on market size and revenue sharing.
The international signing period begins on July 2 and players between 16-23 years old are eligible to be signed. You can read this article by Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com for a more in-depth explanation, and the Yankees received one of the smallest bonus pools at $4,983,500. However, teams are allowed to trade for additional bonus pool money in increments of $250,000 and up to 75 percent of their original allotment. For example, 75 percent of the Yankees bonus pool works out to ~$3.75 million and that is the amount that they are allowed to trade for.
As usual, the Yankees maxed-out their bonus pool by trading for extra money. They traded Adam Warren for $1.25 million in spending money and sent minor league pitcher Caleb Frare to the White Sox for additional funds. The Chasen Shreve/Giovanny Gallegos trade also brought back some international bonus money along with Luke Voit. Lastly, there was a minor trade that sent pitcher Chad Whitmer to the Brewers for bonus money. With those four trades, the Yankees were able to max out their bonus pool.
Who They Signed
Last week, Ryan had an article on a few of the international signings, and you can see a full list here. The Yankees reported 23 signings is the second most in baseball, and they signed more of the top 50 prospects than any other team. The highlights of this year’s class includes:
According to MLB Pipeline, five of the top 10 and 15 of the top 30 prospects in the Yankees system were originally signed out of Latin America. Even with all the talent that has graduated the Yankees system this year, the Yankees still have a top 10 system in all of baseball in large part due to these international signings.
Impact on MLB Team
Oh boy have the international players had a HUGE impact on the current Yankees. Here is a list of players on the Yankees roster signed internationally that have made a contribution this year:
As you can see, the Yankees would not be where they are without the influx of talent that comes from Latin America. Maximizing their bonus pool to sign as many talented players as they can is one of the few ways left that the Yankees can flex their financial muscle.
International Scouting Director Donny Rowland and his staff do a fantastic job scouting talent and the Yankees have shown an excellent ability to develop these players. Several of these players will hopefully be a big part of the next Yankees dynasty.