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The Atlanta Braves International Free Agency 2018 Preview

This could be an important IFA before the big penalties kick in for the next two signing periods.

Atlanta Braves v Miami Marlins Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

I’m not here to rehash the past. There’s no fun in that. I’m here for the now. This could turn out to be a pretty important International Free Agency (IFA) since the Braves have no pool money next year and then the following year just have half of their pool. The international signing period opens on July 2nd, so we are less than 2 weeks away.

With the 2018-2019 International Free Agency period, the Braves are slotted in the 3rd tier with a total bonus pool of $4,983,500. If the Braves decide to trade their pool money, they can only trade up to 75% of their allotment and in $250K increments.

Just note that the Braves are still penalized for going over their pool in 2015 so the max they can sign a player is for $300K. Anything $10K or less does NOT count toward a teams pool.

Hopefully the Braves decide to keep at least half their pool money and sign some players. The reason I say this is that the Braves traded away most of their pool money last year and they’ll have no pool money in 2019 and the following year it’ll be halved. It’s also not feasible to expect the Braves to spend the entire ~$5M since it would take signing 16 players at $300K. The Braves might not even sign 16 players at any amount (Braves signed 15 players in the 2017 IFA). So while I expect the Braves to trade away some of their pool money, I’d like for them to sign 5-10 prospects between $100K-$300K, along with some other players below those amounts.

Ben Badler of Baseball America thinks the Braves will trade most of their pool money away.

There is still talent to be found in the $300,000-and-under price range, but it’s likely the Braves will try to trade away a good chunk of their pool space.

“Hey Sparhawk, can the Braves really sign a good player for $300K or less.” And to this I’ll have a super cool quip as a retort, but right now I can’t think of anything. However, what I can do is tell you of some recent players the Braves have signed for lower amounts.

2014 - Ronald Acuña Jr - $100,000

2015 - Randy Ventura (the legend!) - $17,500

2015 - Jean Carlos Encarnacion - $10,000

2016 - Braulio Vasquez - $125,000

2016 - Jefry Ramos - $250,000

2017 - Asmin Bautista - $300,000

2017 - Christian Zamora - <$300,000?

It’s interesting to note that Christian Zamora didn’t sign immediately when the IFA opened last July. The Braves ended up signing him in September. Matt Powers mentioned him in the GCL Roster Preview. Not much is known about the 2017 signings, but hopefully we will know more before the end of the season. Zamora is very intriguing as a 6’4” OF that won’t turn 17 until July 4th.

While the top 30 or so IFA prospects will get $1M+, that shouldn’t take away from the players that sign for less. Many come from very poor backgrounds so even $100K is still a lot of money.

IFA is a total crap-shoot for the most part. These are high risk, high reward type of players where a player getting a $15K signing bonus can end up being the 2017 AL MVP, whereas someone getting $3M+ might not ever make it out of AA.

Ronald Acuña’s brother, Luisangel, will be in this year’s IFA, however, he’s expected to go around $500K+. Current rumors place the Texas Rangers as the favorites to sign him.

Unfortunately for you all, no one player is currently being tied back to the Braves. Also, any info on players outside the top 30 has been extremely difficult to find. The Braves aren’t going to be able to just put up more money against other teams that offer a player $100K. So no swooping in with last minute steals, that’s just not how the IFA operates. For now, we’ll just have to wait and see what happens.

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