The Red Sox might have the second-lowest budget in the upcoming international signing period, but that doesn't mean they are going to quietly sit by and wait for low-cost players to come to them. Baseball America's Ben Badler is currently predicting that the Red Sox end up with the top pitcher on the international market and the eighth-ranked prospect overall this July 2.
Andres Espinoza, a Venezuelan right-hander, is the prospect in question. He's just 16 years old, and Badler hears that he might end up costing more than what the Red Sox have available for the entire July 2 signing period: Espinoza is supposedly going to get around $2 million, and Boston has $1,881,700 available to them before they are penalized for going over budget. To get Espinoza, the Sox are prepared to face the penalties, though, which are less harsh than in the draft, where teams straight-up lose future draft picks for blowing by their budget: Boston will pay taxes on the dollars over their allotted amount, and will also sacrifice the right to pay international players more than $300,000 bonus for two years, but they won't be stopped from getting players in general.
That penalty doesn't occur just from Espinoza, but the Sox won't just be getting him during an entire international signing period: all the overages will add up, resulting in the two years of penalties. If they were to spend 15 percent over budget total, they would pay a 100 percent tax on the dollars over budget as well as the two years where they are limited to $300,000 per player. Espinoza alone would put them more than 10 percent over budget.
As we've covered before, that makes sense both if the Red Sox are into a particular player and also with the prospect of an international draft happening in the near future making these penalties a one-time deal. Behavior like this might actually help speed up the formation of an international draft, as it becomes clear that teams are going to spend over budget and get who they want regardless of the rules enforced on them by the league.
The Red Sox have been linked to a number of high-priced arms, including Dominican right-hander Christopher Acosta as well as the younger brother of Athletics' prospect Michael Ynoa, Huascar Ynoa. If the Sox were to get two of the three, along with whatever other signings they have planned, they'll leave their budget far behind and have to face penalties, but they'll also have a pair of shiny new international pitching prospects of the same age, helping along that concept of prospect waves that Ben Cherington and Co. enjoy so much.