ATLANTA -- When this year's international signing period began on Thursday, the Braves agreed to provide seven-figure signing bonuses to two players listed among MLB.com's Top 30 International Prospects. They then began positioning themselves to be aggressive yet again on next year's international market.
The Braves added a little more than $1.1 million to their international bonus pool via three trades on Thursday. Cody Martin was sent to the A's in exchange for the 53rd international bonus pool slot, which was set at $388,400. A few hours later, Atlanta traded two Minor Leaguers (right-handed pitcher Caleb Dirks and outfielder Jordan Paroubeck) to the Dodgers for the 87th bonus pool slot, which is valued at $249,000. The Braves ended the flurry by sending Minor League pitcher Garrett Fulenchek to the Rays for the 73rd ($299,000) and 103rd spots ($195,200).
MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez reported on Thursday that the Braves agreed to a $1.4 million signing bonus with outfielder Cristian Pache, ranked No. 10 on MLB.com's Top 30 International Prospects list, and a $2 million bonus for infielder Derian Cruz, ranked No. 24.
With these three trades, the Braves have increased their bonus pool to $3,590,000, which puts them beyond the $3.4 million Pache and Cruz are targeted to receive.
Given that the Braves are expected to attempt to make at least one significant signing on next year's International market, they did not want to exceed this year's pool allotment.
Teams that exceed the pools by zero to 5 percent have to pay 100 percent tax, and teams that exceed the pools by five to 10 percent are not allowed to sign a player for more than $500,000 during the next signing period. They also have to pay a 100 percent tax on the pool overage. Teams that exceed the pools by 10 to 15 percent are not allowed to sign a player for more than $300,000 during the next signing period, and have to pay a 100 percent tax on the pool overage.
In the most severe penalty, teams that exceed the pool by 15 percent or more are not allowed to sign a player for more than $300,000 during the next two signing periods, in addition to paying a 100 percent tax on the pool overage.
Cruz is a 6-foot, 170-pound shortstop who was considered by some scouts to be the best 16-year-old athlete and runner available this year. Pache's speed has also drawn attention from those who have watched him glide through the outfield and provide some indication that he can be a versatile offensive threat.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.