The new international free agent signing period begins on Thursday, July 2, and the Red Sox will be in an unfamiliar position when it does. In the distant past, Boston could spend whatever they wanted on international free agents, but then budgets were introduced with the last collective bargaining agreement. In the 2014-2015 signing period, the Sox exceeded their allotted budget to the point that they can't sign any player to a bonus of more than $300,000 this time around.
That might make it sound like Boston can't do much of anything, but they still have $3,681,000 to play with, the sixth-most in the league. Unlike last period, where they signed two of the top pitchers on the market in Anderson Espinoza and Chris Acosta -- and then signed 19-year-old five-tool prospect Yoan Moncada to a record deal -- they just won't be able to spend all their dollars in a hurry.
Baseball America's Ben Badler, resident international free agent expert, names plenty of players that the Sox are linked to in spite of their restricted spending. Venezuelan outfielder Albert Guaimaro tops their list, and he's one of the better players available -- how can the Sox hope to get him, or Simon Muzziotti, another outfielder who projects as a center fielder? Let Badler explain:
How are the Red Sox going to sign them while under the penalty limit? Being opportunistic for players whose markets never materialized the way their agents were expecting always helps. So does a good loyalty rewards program for trainers and families who like when teams sign a lot of their players.
So, the Sox might have to do some mass buying in order to get the players they want. They can't spend over a million dollars on Guaimaro or Muzziotti, but they can promise that much money (or more) to clients of their trainers and get away with the international free agent version of buy one get one. It's just that it might be more like "buy five get one" in order to make it work, a plan that Kiley McDaniel explained in more detail over at FanGraphs.
Badler also mentions the Sox are in on two Venezuelan shortstops, Eduardo Torrealba and Antonio Pineiro. Torrealba might be an offensive-minded second baseman and Pineiro is known for his glove work, so these don't sound like players the Sox would need to break the bank for in a normal year. We might not know all at once what Boston's plans are for the new July 2 period as we did a year ago, when both Espinoza and Acosta agreed to terms on the day itself, but chances are good the Sox will still be active.
And hey, they can always trade some international bonus slots if they can't find a player to spend them on. Other teams who aren't restricted by penalties, just the budget itself, exist all around the league.