They needed that much because last week the Braves signed shortstop Derian Cruz ($2 million bonus) and center fielder Christian Pache ($1.4 million), a pair of 16-year-old Dominicans. Cruz and Pache were each ranked among the top 10 international free-agent prospects by at least one service. Morales was rated in the top 30 to 40 range by most.
Although the Braves now have a surplus of pitchers and shortstops in their organization, young pitchers and players at up-the-middle defensive positions can be like currency later, allowing the team to trade from those positions of strength to fill a specific need – such as a big bat — when the timing is right.
Signing Cruz and Pache alone would’ve surpassed the Braves’ intial total international-pool spending allotment of $2,458,400, if the Braves hadn’t made moves to acquire other slots and give themselves more spending room.
Teams that exceed the international signing-bonus pools by up to 5 percent must pay a 100 percent tax on the amount over the limit, and teams that exceed the pools by 5-10 percent aren’t permitted to sign a player for more than $500,000 in next year’s signing period, in addition to paying a 100-percent tax on the amount over the limit. The penalties are even steeper when teams go more than 10 percent over their pool allotment.