The 2015-16 MLB International Signing Period began this year on July 2nd, a little more than a week ago. Each season, all 30 major league teams are assigned a certain amount of bonus pool of money they can use to sign players, and a team faces harsh penalties for going too far over their pool. This year, the Milwaukee Brewers’ bonus pool was allotted at $2,389,300.
With a little over a week gone by since the signing period started, the Brewers have been relatively active on this year’s market. There were very few rumors connecting the Brewers to anyone during the run up to this signing period, but Milwaukee has signed two international free agents so far: catcher Jose Sibrian and outfielder Jesus Lujano. Both players are natives of Venezuela.
Jose Sibrian is just 16 years old, and stands 5’10” and weighs 175 lbs. He bats and throws right handed. He was ranked as the #37 international prospect by Fangraphs before the signing period started. Sibrian reportedly received a $550,000 bonus from the club. Here is a video of Sibrian throwing from behind the plate:
Jesus Lujano is also 16 years old, standing at 5’10” and weighing 170 lbs. He bats and throws left handed. Lujano was unranked among the top international prospects prior to the signing period opening, but he was listed among Fangraphs’ players to watch. Lujano reportedly received a $450,000 bonus from Milwaukee.
After those two signings totaling $1,000,000, Milwaukee still has about $1,389,300 to work with from their international bonus pool. The Brewers can use this money to target some more players, or they could try and trade some of their unused bonus pool to a team that is in danger of going over their own pool.
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While the Brewers haven’t acquired anyone considered “top tier talent” on this year’s international market, it is positive to see them continue their interest in players overseas. Milwaukee has been quite active over the past few seasons, signing players like Franley Mallen and Nicholas Pierre in 2013, and then going all out to sign top talent Gilbert Lara for $3.1 mil in 2014. They also made an offer to Yoan Moncada before he chose to sign with Boston. There is no doubting the dividends the international market can pay: top prospect Orlando Arcia and starting pitcher Wily Peralta were both international signees by Milwaukee, and players like Francisco Rodriguez and Hernan Perez also came from overseas (but were signed by different franchises).
Next season could be a big one for Milwaukee on the international market, as well. If a team goes over their bonus pool by more than 5% they are unable to sign a player for more than a $300,000 bonus during the next two signing periods. Last year four teams went over this value, and several more have been added to the list this season. That means next year, Milwaukee won’t have to compete with the likes of the deep-pocketed Yankees, Red Sox, Angels, Dodgers, or Cubs for the top international talent. This should allow the Brewers to make some aggressive gains, as they have shown a willingness to in the past.