Red Sox could be penalized for International signings


The Boston Red Sox are being investigated by Major League Baseball over their 2015 international signings.

Cheaters! That type of rash judgement is typically reserved for the New England Patriots in these parts, but now fingers are pointing at Fenway Park.

Major League Baseball is conducting an investigation into the 2015 international signings made by the Boston Red Sox. If the league office finds anything they don’t like, the penalties could be severe.

League sources have informed Baseball America’s Ben Badler that penalties being considered include signing restrictions for the upcoming 2016-17 international signing period. There is also the possibility that Boston could be stripped of some of their 2015 signings, making those players free agents that can sign with any other team.

Badler goes on to elaborate on the details of how this could effect the Red Sox.

"“The timing of the disciplinary action is significant,” writes Badler. “Several Venezuelan players were expected to sign contracts with the Red Sox on July 2, but if these penalties are imposed, those players would no longer be able to sign with Boston. That includes 16-year old outfielder Roimer Boliver, the No. 31 international prospect on Baseball America’s Top 50 international prospects list.”"

That seems to be a pretty steep price. On the plus side, at least this would not effect any of the top prospects in the Red Sox farm system. Not to worry, the league isn’t taking Yoan Moncada away from us.

So what exactly are the Red Sox accused of doing?

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The commissioner’s office has been looking into signings the Red Sox made with several Venezuelan players that came from the same training program. It’s not uncommon for teams to make “package deals” for international prospects. The problem MLB has with what Boston has allegedly done is that the Red Sox were limited to signing players to no more than $300,000 bonuses last year as a result of exceeding their bonus pool during the previous signing period.

In 2015 the Red Sox inked Venezuelan outfielders Albert Guaimaro, ranked as the No. 15 international prospect by Baseball America, and Simon Muzziotti, ranked No. 24, to $300,000 bonuses. Given their spots in the top half of Baseball America’s list, one might expect they would have received more.

At least that’s what MLB assumes, which is why they are accusing the Red Sox of foul play. Perhaps they convinced these prospects to accept less so that their fellow Venezuelan’s from the same training program would get more than they typically would as part of the package deal. There’s technically nothing wrong with that, unless of course those less desirable prospects are sharing some of that extra bonus money with Guaimaro and Muzziotti, essentially allowing them to pocket more than the $300,000 the Red Sox were allowed to offer.

Except MLB hasn’t actually proven that this occurred. So what did they do? According to Badler, they sent officials to the Red Sox academy in the Dominican Republic to interrogate those players that signed last year out of Venezuela.

So basically, on a hunch that he Red Sox may be exploiting some loophole in their process, MLB bullied a bunch of 16 and 17 year old kids, who did not have their parents or any representation to stand by them, into a confession. While MLB has denied this, sources told Baseball America that these players were threatened with suspension if they didn’t cooperate, bringing some of these terrified children to tears. Nice job, MLB!

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This all seems like a relatively minor issue that comes down to no more than taking advantage of a flawed system rather than some nefarious plot by the Red Sox to cheat. That’s assuming the organization is even guilty of what they are accused of! But of course this will all be overblown into a huge scandal, just as the DeflateGate saga was for the Patriots. The only hope is that Major League Baseball doesn’t fumble their investigation as atrociously as Roger Goodell did.

If the league does determine that the Red Sox have broken the rules, can they just blame Bill Belichick?