As many readers know, because of their 2015 regular season success, the St. Louis Cardinals received the smallest international bonus pool allocation of all clubs for the 2016-2017 signing season at just over $2 million.
However, due to favorable external conditions, the Cardinals decided to over-spend significantly and incur associated penalties from Major League Baseball. Contributing factors to making this decision included a number of deep-pocketed clubs prohibited from high bonuses for individual players due to prior year over-spending, a widening Cuban pipeline and the unknowns that go with a new Collective Bargaining Agreement scheduled to be in place next year.
To date in the current period which began on July 2, the Cardinals have officially signed 16 international players, with two more reportedly in process. Sources including Baseball America and MLB.com have disclosed signing bonuses for just seven of the 16 plus both in-process players.
Of those nine, four are receiving more than $1 million with the other five getting between $100,000 and $600,000 each in signing bonuses. The list is topped by Cuban outfielder Jonatan Machado (pictured), the highest-bonused international signee in team history at $2.3 million.
To help put that into perspective, Machado is receiving more than the Cardinals’ entire signing budget for the year.
Five of the 16 have been signed to 2016 contracts and have begun play in the Dominican Summer League. The playing contracts of the other 11 will go into effect in 2017.
Here they are:
|Signed – bonus reported (7)||Pos||Ctry||Age||Bonus||Year|
|Signed – bonus not reported (9)||Pos||Ctry||Age||Bonus||Year|
|Diomedes Del Rio||OF||Ven||18||2016|
|In process (2)||Pos||Ctry||Age||Bonus||Year|
Now, let’s roll up the numbers – for those players whose bonuses have been disclosed. As a result, these numbers are low, not high.
|In process players||$1,450,000|
|Signed + in process players||$8,800,000|
|Pct over pool|
|Overage signed players||$5,322,700||162.6%|
|Overage signed + in process players||$6,772,700||234.1%|
|$ penalty||Signing penalty|
|Penalty signed (over 15% over pool)||$5,322,700||100% tax||No player over $300K in 2017-18 and 2018-19|
|Penalty signed + in process (over 15%)||$6,772,700||100% tax||No player over $300K in 2017-18 and 2018-19|
|Total cost signed players||$12,672,700||625.1%||No player over $300K in 2017-18 and 2018-19|
|Total cost signed + in process players||$15,572,700||768.1%||No player over $300K in 2017-18 and 2018-19|
As noted, if the two in-process players are signed without a hitch, the Cardinals will have spent at least $8.8 million against their budget allocation of just over $2 million.
The reason for this is that the system is set up with low bars. The highest penalty rate possible is incurred at a 15 percent overspend. Going beyond that has an immediate financial impact, at the rate of one penalty dollar per dollar of overspend, but with no additional penalties in the future.
As the table above indicates, if everyone is signed, the Cardinals will overspend by just under $6.8 million. The club will owe that same amount to MLB, a 100 percent financial penalty. In addition, St. Louis will be prohibited to sign any individual players for more than $300,000 each over both of the next two signing periods.
This is very important to understand. While the Cardinals are fattening up their minor league system this year, they will face an international famine in the 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 July 2nd classes. So it is especially crucial to get the right players this time around.
The bottom line
To secure the services of these 18 young men, the Cardinals will have to spend a grand total of over $15.5 million or 768 percent of their pool allocation. Plus, the signing year is far from over. The Cards could decide to keep spending.
To put that $15.5 MM into perspective, it is over 50 percent more than the organization spent on this June’s First-Year Player Draft. It is also falls in between what Yadier Molina and Matt Holliday make in salary in 2016.
With that kind of financial commitment, it would not be surprising for the Cardinals to expect one or two new core players to one day emerge from this group.
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