Major League Baseball announced today that the start of the 2020-2021 international signing period will be delayed and will not begin until Jan. 15, 2021. The period still run its nearly full year cycle until Dec. 15, 2021.
The International Signing Period, which usually begins on July 2nd of every year, is when players may sign baseball players from outside the United States and Canada. They are free agents, but teams have a cap on how much bonus money they can spend to lure the best young players to their organization. Normally, any player who is at least 16, or who will turn 16 before Sept. 1st of the current signing period is eligible. Reports did not specify if the age deadline will also be adjusted.
The move generally will not affect players that would play this season. It is extremely rare for any signing to play the same season in which they were signed. The likely would be making their pro debuts in 2021 if this were a normal year.
The Giants will be one of 12 teams that have a bonus pool of $5,348,100, which is the third-highest pool total. 14 teams have more money, with six teams featuring pools of $6,431,000 and eight with a pool of $5,899,600. Those teams are in the Competitive Balance level, and get more bonus money. Four teams have less pool money, including the Braves with just $1,572,000 due to penalties from the past. Others have received smaller penalties due to free agent signings or being over the luxury tax.
Many prospects often already have informal agreements with teams before the start of the period, so for many of them, the delay just delays the inevitable. For this year’s class, the Giants have only been publicly connected with one prospect, Diego Velasquez, who ranks #44 among Baseball America’s international prospects. He’s a shortstop from Venezuela, where the Giants made many signings last year. He is a skinny, athletic shortstop, with soft hands and a contact-oriented bat from both sides of the plate.
It is very possible that this change in signing periods will stick for the future. Because baseball has delayed what would have been the 2021-2022 period as well, we may simply see the signing periods start in January from now on.