International First-Year Players - Eligibility & Restrictions

The "International Signing Period" extends from July 2nd through June 15th of the following year. No international player can be signed during the period of time extending from June 16th through July 1st.
NOTE: The 2019-20 ISP has been extended until 5 PM (Eastern) on October 15th. The start of the 2020-21 ISP will commence on January 15, 2021, and extend through December 15th, and the 2021-22 ISP will commence on January 15, 2022, and extend through December 15th. No international player can be signed during the period of time beginning at 5 PM Eastern on October 15, 2020, through January 14, 2021, and during the period of time beginning at 5 PM (Eastern) on December 15, 2021 through January 14, 2022.    

Any individual who is age 16 or older, has not previously signed an MLB or minor league contract, resides outside the U. S., Canada, and Puerto Rico, and has not been enrolled in a high school or college in the U. S., Canada, or Puerto Rico within the previous year, can be signed during the ISP. Also, any individual age 15 who turns 16 during the ISP is eligible to sign beginning on the date he turns 16 up through August 31st or by the last day of the regular season of the minor league club to which he is first assigned (whichever comes last).  

International Signing Bonus Pool

INTERNATIONAL SIGNING BONUS POOL 

There is a maximum limit on the aggregate amount of money each MLB club can pay as signing bonuses to international first-year players.

1. Each MLB club is assigned an "International Signing Bonus Pool" (ISBP) prior to the start of the International Signing Period (ISP).
NOTE: The Cubs 2021 ISBP is $5,348,100.  

2021 ISP
$6,431,000 for an MLB club that has a selection in Competitive Balance Round "B" (between the 2nd & 3rd rounds) of the MLB Rule 4 Draft;
$5,899,600 for an MLB club that has a selection in Competitive Balance Round "A" (between the 1st & 2nd rounds) of the MLB Rule 4 Draft; 
$5,348,100 for an MLB club that does not receive Competitive Balance Tax (CBT) revenue sharing (this group includes the Cubs). 
$4,732,700 for an MLB club that does not receive CBT revenue sharing that signed a post-2019 Article XX-B Qualified Player to a 2020 MLB contract 
$4,232,700 for an MLB club that is a CBT payor that signed a post-2019 Article XX-B Qualified Player to a 2020 MLB contract 
NOTE: The Atlanta Braves 2021 ISBP is $1,572,000 as the result of penalties received from a previous season rules violation 

2. Any signing bonus of $10,000 or less does not count toward a club's ISBP limit. 

3. An MLB club (excluding clubs that receive CBT revenue sharing and MLB Rule 4 Competitive Balance draft picks) that signs an Article XX-B Qualified Player (not including its own Qualified Players) will have $500,000 subtracted from its assigned International Signing Bonus Pool (ISBP) in the next full International Signing Period (ISP) for each Qualified Player signed, and an MLB club that is a Competitive Balance Tax (CBT) payor (club's payroll from the previous season exceeded the CBT threshold) would have $1,000,000 subtracted from its ISBP in the next ISP for each Qualified Player signed. (The Competitive Balance Tax threshold was $195M in 2017, $197M in 2018, $206M in 2019, and $208M in 2020, and will be $210M in 2021).
NOTE: The Los Angeles Angels and the Philadelphia Phillies had their 2021 ISBP reduced by $500K and the New York Yankees had their 2021 ISBP reduced by $1M as the result of signing post-2019 MLB Article XX-B Qualified Players.  

4. A club can carry-over up to $400K in ISBP space from one ISP to the next ISP if a contract or contracts signed by a player or players is/are voided after the conclusion of the ISP during which the contract or contracts was/were signed. The amount of ISBP space carried-over from the previous ISP must match the amount of ISBP space that was deducted from the club's ISBP after the player or players signed their contracts. If the amount of ISBP space deducted exceeded $400K, the amount of ISBP space in excess of $400K that is carried-over to the next ISP will be divided up into 29 equal amounts and added to the ISBP of the other 29 MLB clubs. 
NOTE: A club's right to carry-over ISBP space from one ISP to the next ISP only applies to contracts that are voided as the result of the player failing his physical or being unable to obtain a visa to the U. S. or if an investigation by the MLB Commissioner determines the player falsified his age and/or identity prior to signing the contract. It does not apply to contracts voided by the MLB Commissioner as a result of a rules violation by the club.

6. The MLB Commissioner can order a club to forfeit up to 50% of its assigned ISBP from one or more ISP and/or one or more player contract(s) can be voided if it is determined that a club and/or a player or players attempted to circumvent the international signing bonus rules.

ISBP RESTRICTIONS/EXCEPTIONS

1. A international first-year player subject to ISBP restrictions cannot be signed to a Major League contract.

2. A player age 25 or older who has spent all or part of at least six seasons playing in an MLB-recognized foreign professional or "major" league is considered to be a "Foreign Professional" player. A "Foreign Professional" is not subject to ISBP international first-year player restrictions and can sign a Major League or minor league contract with any MLB organization without restriction. A signing bonus paid to a "Foreign Professional" does - NOT - count against the club’s ISBP.
NOTE: Beginning with the 2018-19 ISP, any "Foreign Professional" player under contract to a Liga Mexicana de Beisbol (Mexican League) club can sign a Major League or minor league contract with any MLB organization after the conclusion of the LMB season (including post-season), or (with consent of the player's LMB club) during the LMB season. If an MLB club signs an LMB player with "Foreign Professional" player status, the MLB club must pay the LMB club a one-time release fee equal to 15% of the total value of the contract if the player signs a Major League contract or 35% of the total value of the contract if the player signs a minor league contract. No release fee would be paid by the MLB club if the player's contract has expired or if the contract had been terminated by the LMB club prior to the MLB club offering a contract to the player.     

3. A player under contract to a Liga Mexicana de Beisbol (Mexican League) club who has not yet reached "Foreign Professional" player status may sign a minor league contract with an MLB organization - IF - the LMB club agrees to release the player so that he can sign with the MLB club. The Mexican League club would receive a one-time release fee equal to 35% of the total value of the contract (by rule an international player who is not yet a "Foreign Professional" cannot sign a Major League contract). The release fee paid by an MLB club to an LMB club does - NOT - count against the MLB club's ISBP.    
NOTE: Prior to the 2018-19 ISP, up to 75% of a signing bonus paid to a Mexican League player (or a player under contractual control of an LMB club) who had not yet reached "Foreign Professional" player status did not count against the MLB club's ISBP if the signing bonus was paid to the Mexican League club and not directly to the player and the player received no more than 25% of the signing bonus from the Mexican League club. 

4. Trading ISBP space is prohibited in 2021.

TRADING/ACQUIRING ISBP SPACE:

Trading ISBP space is prohibited in both the 2021 and 2022 ISP. 

PRIOR TO 2021

Prior to the conclusion of the 2019-20 ISP, a club could trade up to 100% of its ISBP, and a club could acquire up to 60% of its assigned ISBP via trade or trades.

While up to 100% of a club's originally-assigned ISBP (plus up to an additional 60% of the club's originally-assigned ISBP that might be acquired in a trade or trades) could be traded, there were some restrictions:

1. A club's ISBP (or a portion of it) could only be traded during the International Signing Period (ISP) to which the ISBP was assigned (July 2nd through June 15th of the following year);

2. A club cpuld trade ISBP space only in increments of $250K (including multiples of $250K) unless the club was trading all of its remaining ISBP in one transaction.

3. A club's ISBP (or a portion of it) could not be sold for cash. However, cash could be exchanged if it was used to offset the salary or salaries of a player or players acquired in return for the SBV;

4. A club's ISBP (or a portion of it) could not be substituted for a "Player to Be Named Later" (PTBNL);

5. Another club's ISBP (or a portion of it) acquired in a trade could be traded ("flipped") to a third club.