MLB Ends Ban On Mexican League Signings With New Deal

Image credit: Fernando Villalobos (Photo by Bill Mitchell)

Major League Baseball’s ban on Mexican League signings is over.

A new system that MLB announced today is now in place, with terms that should be more favorable to the young prospects who sign with MLB clubs from Mexican League teams.

The way the old system worked, an MLB club signed a Mexican League player and only the amount that went to the player counted against the team’s international bonus pool. In many cases, the Mexican League club would keep 75 percent of the signing amount. So in that instance, when an MLB club signed a Mexican League player for $1 million, the player would receive $250,000 and only that $250,000 would count against the MLB club’s bonus pool.

Under the new system, when a team signs a Mexican League player subject to the international bonus pools, the full signing bonus amount still counts against a team’s international bonus pool. Except now, the player won’t be paying a commission to his Mexican League club. Instead, the MLB club will pay the player his signing bonus, then pay an additional 35 percent “release fee” to the Mexican League club. That release fee won’t count against the bonus pool.

So with the new rules, that same Mexican League player who signs for $1 million would receive the full $1 million. That $1 million would count against the MLB club’s international bonus pool, with the MLB club paying $350,000 as a release fee to the Mexican League club. Or, if a club wanted to only pay $1 million total for the player, it could sign the player for a $740,741 bonus, then pay the additional $259,259 as a 35 percent release fee to the Mexican League club, bringing it to a $1 million total.

For Mexican League players who meet MLB’s “foreign professional” requirements to be exempt from the international bonus pools—players who are at least 25 years old with six or more years of foreign professional league experience—the MLB club will pay the Mexican League club a release fee of 15 percent of the total guaranteed contract value.

Since June, MLB has banned Mexican League signings, with the case of Tijuana Toros righthander Florencio Serrano the catalyst for the commissioner’s office. Serrano, who had signed with the Cubs for $1.2 million but is now back with the Toros, will become one of the top prospects available for the remainder of the 2018-19 international signing period, which closes on June 15.

Another prominent Mexican League prospect who had been caught in limbo, catcher Fernando Villalobos, has been expected to sign with the Brewers. He ranked as Baseball America’s No. 34 international prospect for July 2 last year in the current 2018-19 signing period.

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