The Red Sox have been banned from this year’s international free-agent market and have lost five prospects they signed last year, according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports. The penalties come after a Major League Baseball investigation into how the team used “package deals” to sign free agents last year.
The five players whose contracts were voided are outfielders Albert Guaimaro and Simon Muzziotti, infielders Antonio Pinero and Eduardo Torrealba and pitcher Cesar Gonzalez, according to Passan. Though none of the five prospects were ranked among MLB.com’s ranking of the top 30 players in a solid Red Sox’ system, Guaimaro and Muzziotti are considered prospects and will hit free agency immediately.
In a ranking of the best 30 international prospects available last season, MLB.com ranked Guaimaro as the 18th-best available player. The 17-year old Dominican outfielder is now free to sign with any club.
After a strong showing in the 2014 international market, the Red Sox were restricted in their spending last season, with a $300K maximum on any bonus given to an international amateur. As Passan explains, they attempted to circumvent this rule by giving Guaimaro a $300K bonus and giving similar bonuses to two less-heralded players represented by Guaimaro’s agent. Guaimaro’s agent then redistributed the money to Guaimaro, giving him close to market value while getting two of his other clients a chance with the Red Sox.
In all, the penalties against the Sox are not too severe due to the team’s already-in place limitations for this year (another $300K cap) and the low rankings of the prospects they signed last year. It’s still a slight black eye for the organization to get caught in such a practice, and could pause the development of the club’s international program for a couple seasons.