The Yankees have spent over $300 million on players this winter, but their free-spending ways will not be limited to major league free agents. Kiley McDaniel of Scout.com reports the team plans to shatter spending records on the international amateur market next summer, meaning young players from Latin America and around the world.
Here's more, from McDaniel:
A source with direct knowledge of the Yankees plans says they aim to spend $12-15 million in bonuses on international amateurs this year, which would trigger penalties of about $10-12 million per to the 2-year old rules in the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) that limit international spending.
The total outlay of about $25 million would blow away a record the Texas Rangers set in 2011 of about $15 million, of all penalty-free bonuses. That record was thought to be untouchable as it came in the last season before spending limits were implemented and was shocking at the time, also shattering the previous record.
Sources have indicated that part of this plan was the Yankees belief that this is an above average July 2nd class. Rival executives think it is just an average class and point out that, of the 5-7 players most rumored to be signing with the Yankees, only one or two are elite players worth the big bonuses they are rumored to be getting. That's par for the course in a market where opinions can vary wildly and players, like the Yankees top signing last year, often develop in the winter/spring before signing.
Teams are given a spending pool for international players each summer -- the signing period starts on July 2 each year -- and there are harsh penalties for exceeding that pool. It's similar to the amateur draft system. The pools have not yet been announced but the Yankees are likely to be allotted $2-3 million or so according to McDaniel. By going over the pool, the team would pay that big tax as well as forfeit the ability to sign a player for more than $300,000 over the next two signing periods.
By going so far over their spending limit and incurring the penalities, the Yankees would be putting all of their eggs in one basket, at least for the next few years. They'll sign as many quality prospects as possible during the 2014-15 signing period and basically punt the 2015-16 and 2016-17 classes. Other clubs like the Cubs and Rays have employed a similar strategy in recent years, but not to the extreme the Yankees are said to be considering.
Spending big on international prospects next summer helps the team in two ways. One, it will add some impact talent to a farm system in desperate need of some. Two, it will help the Yankees cover for all the draft picks they surrendered as free agent compensation this winter. They gave up three high draft picks -- first rounder as well as the supplemental first rounders they received for Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson -- to sign Brian McCann, Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran.
The spending restrictions put in place by the most recent Collective Bargaining Agreement hit the Yankees especially hard. The international market was the backbone of their farm system for decades as the club forfeited draft picks for free agents. They've signed homegrown stars like Bernie Williams, Mariano Rivera and Cano out of Latin America, not to mention trade bait like Juan Rivera and Jesus Montero over the years. Apparently the Yankees decided the best way to operate under the new rules is just spend freely and deal with the penalties.