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Buy American? Not quite so much in amateur signings this year -- so far

By Scott Miller | Senior Baseball Columnist

LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers, exhibiting their commitment to the international market, signed Cuban outfielder Yasiel Puig to a seven-year, $42 million contract Friday.

Earlier this year, the Athletics signed Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes to a four-year, $36 million deal.

And the Cubs signed Cuban outfielder Jorge Soler to a nine-year, $30 million deal.

Starting Tuesday, under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, signing bonuses on international players will come with limits, just as signing bonuses on this June's amateur draft were limited. The Puig signing will wind up being one of the last big international signings under the old system.

But during that time-lapse interim, wow.

Do the math and ... wait, you don't have to do the math.

Somebody's already done it, and that somebody is quick to point out that what major league baseball's new draft rules did -- at least, while there was no limit on international signings -- essentially was to outsource money away from American amateur talent.

Agent Scott Boras, who negotiated record signing bonuses for first-rounders Bryce Harper ($18.9 million) and Stephen Strasburg ($15 million) in recent years, was adamantly against the new draft rules this year that dictated slotted signing bonuses for draft picks.

He likes the rules even less now.

As he notes, so far this summer, three amateur Cuban players have signed for more than $100 million in bonuses ... while more than 300 American-born amateur players have signed for around $175 million total.

"We wanted to deter spending on entry-level players," Boras said. "What we've done is funnel that money to exterior markets.

"This is how we've resolved expenditures on the draft."

Under the new rules on deck to begin Tuesday, each club will have $2.9 million total for all international players signed annually. That amount will fluctuate with each year, but it is not expected to do so by much.

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