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Royals quiet in the international free agent market

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Their hands are a bit tied.

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The Royals have been absent in the flurry of international free agent signings that have taken place in the first week since signings were allowed to become official on July 2. According to the international signing tracker at Baseball America, the Royals are one of five clubs (Orioles, Cubs, Marlins, and Mariners being the others) that have yet to sign a single free agent. The Braves landed the consensus top international player, infielder Kevin Maitan, out of Venezuela, for $4.25 million. In addition to the Braves, the Padres, Rays, and Phillies have been the most active teams.

The Royals are severely handicapped this year, as they are one of nine teams that are not allowed to spend more than $300,000 on a bonus for any player, as punishment for exceeding their bonus pool in the 2015-2016 signing period. Kansas City spent $5.64 million on international free agents last year, exceeding their bonus pool of $2.074 million. It was the fourth-most amount of money spent on international free agents that year. Among the free agents signed by the Royals last year were outfielder Seuly Matias, for $2.25 million, shortstop Jeison Guzman, for $1.5 million, catcher Sebastian Rivero, for $450,000, and shortstop Angel Medina, for $425,000.

This year, the Royals have the fourth-lowest international bonus pool amount at $2,081,200. The Philadelphia Phillies have the most to spend with $5,610,800. You can see all bonus pool amounts at Baseball America. The bonus pools are determined based on reverse-order of last year's standings, although teams can trade "slot" amounts. If a team exceeds their bonus pool they face the following penalties:

0-5% overage: MLB taxes the overage at a 100% rate.

5-10% overage: MLB taxes the overage at a 100% rate and the offending club loses the right to sign any player to a bonus exceeding $500,000 during the following international signing period.

10-15% overage: MLB taxes the overage at a 100% rate and the offending club loses the right to sign any player to a bonus exceeding $300,000 during the following international signing period.

15%+ overage: MLB taxes the overage at a 100% rate and the offending club loses the right to sign any player to a bonus exceeding $300,000 during the following two international signing periods.

Accordingly, the Royals will still be penalized in the 2017-2018 signing period, restricted to spending no more than $300,000 for any one player. The Boston Red Sox were recently punished for subverting the bonus penalties and are prohibited from signing any international players this signing period.

Player subject to the international signing period are any amateur players not from the United States (including Puerto Rico) or Canada. Cuban players at least 23 years of age that have played at least five years in a Cuban league are not subject to international signing restrictions. Japanese amateurs have long been off-limits as a gentleman's agreement between MLB and the Japanese NPB, but that dynamic has changed. Japanese professional players are not subject to the international signing system.

Among the international free agents signed by Dayton Moore in the past, include Salvador Perez, Yordano Ventura, Kelvin Herrera, and Cheslor Cuthbert. He has also signed million dollar deals to less productive players such as Noel Arguelles, Elier Hernandez, and Orlando Calixte. The Royals have invested a significant amount of money in international player development since Dayton Moore took over in 2006.