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International Free Agency begins, Milwaukee Brewers dole out $4+ mil in bonuses

The new international signing period began today.

MLB: General Managers Meetings Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Today is July 2nd, which means that the new 2016-17 international signing period has begun. The rules are a bit different for international free agents this year as a result of the most recent Collective Bargaining Agreement that was put into place last winter. Here’s a refresher of how things work:

  • Most teams get a bonus pool of $4.75 mil that they can use to sign international prospects. Some teams classified as “small market” or “small revenue” can receive pools of either $5.25 mil or $5.75 mil.
  • Teams can make trades to acquire up to 75% of their bonus pool allotment. So, if a team has a bonus pool of $4.75 mil, they can add an additional $3.56 mil by trading with other teams to make their total pool amount roughly $8.31 mil. A team can deal away 100% of its bonus pool, if it is so inclined.
  • Bonuses of $10,000 or less are exempt from bonus pool totals. Players that are 25 or older and have played six or more years in a foreign baseball league are also exempt from bonus pool restrictions.

For the current signing period, the Milwaukee Brewers have a pool of $5.25 mil to work with. They could potentially increase that to up to $9.18 mil with trades, but they have not added any additional bonus slots for the current period at this point.

Milwaukee had already been rumored to be the favorites to sign two of the top 30 ranked international free agents from MLB Pipeline, and those deals were made official today:

(14) OF Larry Ernesto - $1.7 mil

Age: 16 || Dominican Republic || B/T: S/R || 6’2” || 175 lbs

Hit: 60 || Power: 55 || Run: 55 || Arm: 50 || Field: 55

Ernesto is a toolsy player with an athletic projectable body and tons of fans in the international scouting community.

On defense, Ernesto has the speed and instincts to play center field, but like most prospects his age, he will have to work on improving his routes and angles to fly balls. The belief is that he has the potential to become a plus-plus defender, and there's hope that he will develop more arm strength once his body matures and he receives daily instruction in a team's academy when he signs.

On offense, the switch-hitting Ernesto has a good approach at the plate and likes to drive the ball into the gaps. He has a chance to hit for average and power from both sides of the plate as he develops physically, but is considered a better left-handed hitter at the moment. Known as a speedy runner, the hope is that Ernesto will be able to use his raw speed on the bases and eventually become a basestealer.

(28) OF Carlos Rodriguez - $1.355 mil

Age: 16 || Venezuela || B/T: L/L || 5’10” || 150 lbs

Hit: 55 || Power: 30 || Run: 60 || Arm: 50 || Field: 60

The athletic Rodriguez is small compared some of the other prospects in this year's class, but his tools have big potential.

The center fielder has a chance to be a plus hitter, a plus runner and a plus center fielder. He has been compared to a young Ender Inciarte and a teenage Gerardo Parra with better tools at the same age. He projects to have an average arm.

At the plate, Rodriguez has a nice and easy swing with good bat speed. He can drive the ball to all fields with hard contact and has shown enough pop to make some believe he will develop future power potential. He is expected to hit for average.

Evaluators like that Rodriguez is polished for his age and has track record of success in games, a history that includes participation in national and international tournaments for Venezuela.

Beyond those two top prospects, the Brewers have also agreed to lesser deals with other international free agents. From Baseball America’s international signing tracker and

Leoner Colina || RHP || Venezuela || $15,000
Jeicor Cristian || OF || Dominican Republic || $340,000
Luis Valderrama || C || Venezuela || $10,000
Davison González || LHP || Venezuela || $10,000
Juan Frias || OF || Dominican Republic || $50,000
Andres Melendez || C || Venezuela || $325,000
Jose Romero || C || Venezuela
Francis Casado || OF || Dominican Republic || $300,000
Daniel Castillo || SS || Venezuela || $140,000
Alwinson Valdez || OF || Dominican Republic || $80,000
Alberis Perez || SS || Dominican Republic || $60,000
Jose Arteaga || SS || Venezuela || $20,000
Cristiam Sierra || RHP || Dominican Republic || $10,000

So far Milwaukee has spent at least $4,415,000 of its $5,250,000 bonus pool on international prospects. The current signing period runs through next June 15th.