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Red Sox banned from international signing period, have five contracts voided

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The Red Sox now know their punishment for circumventing the restrictions on their international spending, and while it might sound harsh, it's actually not all that bad.

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The Red Sox have been banned from signing international amateurs during the 2016-2017 signing period, and have had the contracts of five prospects signed in last year's period voided, including two of the class' top-30 talents in Albert Guaimaro and Simon Muzziotti. This as the result of the now-concluded investigations over the Red Sox' use of "package deals" to circumvent restrictions on their spending in the wake of the Yoan Moncada signing. Buster Olney had the news first.

So here's the bad news: the Red Sox are down five prospects, including two fairly good ones, and won't be adding anymore in the international free agent market this year.

Here's the good news: this isn't actually all that much worse than if they had just played by the rules.

This scenario is basically what the Red Sox should have been expecting when they inked Yoan Moncada to his massive deal. Or, rather, before that, when they signed Anderson Espinoza and Christopher Acosta to enough in bonuses to already put them into the same penalty bracket. The Red Sox went for broke in 2014-2015, understanding that they would be limited in what they could do in the next couple of years.

Granted, they may have thought they could get away with this. And by attempting to do so and failing, they've lost out on some talent. They could still have signed up a bunch of players for $300,000 this year. They could have used the money they spent on the contracts that were just voided to sign some more around that level.

But those players are the longest of long shots when they're brought in. Looking back to the first international signing period with bonus pools, Javier Guerra is the only player brought in at such a low price ($250,000) who's really brought much of anything to the table thus far, and he's looking more like a flash-in-the-pan than ever now that he's putting up a .609 OPS with 93 strikeouts for the Padres' High-A club.

If you're looking for the players of real note in Boston's IFA classes,  it's guys like Rafael Devers ($1.5 million), Anderson Espinoza ($1.8 million) and of course Yoan Moncada ($31.5 million) who are far more likely to make an impact on the minor leagues. That's three of the four highly-touted top tier of Boston's farm system, and the Red Sox will be happy to pay the price of two-dozen long shots for...well, probably for even just Moncada alone.

That's not saying they should keep on trying to skirt the rules from here on in. The league has drawn the line in the sand, and the Red Sox would be wise not to cross it again. But what matters here is that the Red Sox are still free to do what they want in 2017-2018, when the Moncada restrictions were set to run out in the first place. You can expect them to drop as much money as they can on that class, go quiet for another two, and repeat that process until the league puts a draft in place.