The Boston Red Sox just couldn't help themselves.
Facing a $300,000 per player signing restriction in the 2015-16 spending period due to the massive spending spree that netted them Yoan Moncada in the 2014-15 period, the Red Sox were able to nab prospects Simon Muzziotti and Albert Guaimaro, among others, at exactly that price: $300 grand. Except, it turns out, the acquisitions of Mizziotti, Guaimaro, and three other players, were part of package deals allowing them to circumvent MLB signing rules. Essentially, money the Red Sox offered to lesser players was transferred to the more heralded prospects through backchannels.
As a result, the Red Sox today faced unprecedented penalties for this year's international signing period, according to Baseball America.
The first of their penalties is that they are banned from signing anyone during the 2016-2017 international signing period, which opens Saturday. Then, MLB ruled that their five illegal signings from last year are nixed—sent back to the international free agent pool. That includes their two 17-year-old outfielders—last year's No. 24 international prospect Muzziotti and No. 15 Guaimaro—as well as Antonio Pinero, Eduardo Torrealba, and Cesar Gonzalez. All other teams will be able to pick them up at a July 5 workout in Santo Domingo, according to ESPN. As an insult to the Red Sox's injury, the players get to keep their bonus pool money, which effectively works as a fine to the Red Sox.
While the Red Sox are certainly paying the price for side-stepping the rules, there's an unintended victim for their penalties: other Venezuelan prospects from this year. Several 16-year-old prospects were set to sign with the Red Sox, but now, due to MLB's last-second ban on new signings, the prospects will have to scramble to find a new club to latch on with. The Red Sox have not only screwed themselves over, but now young prospects as well.