Most 18-year-olds are hoping to have enough money in their pockets so they can take their girlfriends to the movies over the weekend. If they do, chances are they worked a good number of hours flipping burgers or working at some other minimum wage job to earn it. They don't like it, but it is just part of growing up.
Yusniel Diaz is not going to have to worry about having enough money to take his girlfriend to the movies for a long time. Heck, he could even throw in dinner at the most expensive steak house in town if he wanted to.
The 18-year-old Cuban outfielder can afford to do so, now that he has signed a deal giving him a $15.5 million bonus to play for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Diaz was the top rookie in Cuba's Serie Nacional last season where he hit .348, had a slugging percentage of .440, and a slugging percentage of .448. Along with his power, the team was impressed with his athleticism and speed.
Why sign them so young? Teams hope that by getting them into the minor league system early they can receive the coaching and game experience they need to finish developing into a legitimate MLB player. If it takes a player 3-5 years that means they could be playing in the big leagues by the time they turn 21, if not sooner.
MLB teams have been mining the various international leagues for young talent for years. Enough attention is being paid to international players that the league created a system by which teams were allotted a certain amount of money to sign international players. When the system began back during the 2012-13 signing period every team had $2.9 million bonus pool to work with. In every year since there has been a system established by where the worst teams had more money and the best had less.
For example, for the 2015-16 signing period the Arizona Diamondbacks had the most at $5.393 million and the Angels the least at $1.968 million. Teams are allowed to go over their allotted amount, but if they do so they are hit with a luxury tax. Go over by five percent and teams pay a 75 percent tax on the overage amount. Go to 5-10 percent over and teams will be hit with a 100 percent tax and will not be allowed to sign a player to a bonus of more than $500,000 during the next signing period.
The Dodgers have been busy signing international prospects since the signing period began on July 2. They currently have 28 international prospects that will cost the team $23.5 million in bonuses (most get in the mid-figure range; not millions like Diaz).
However, the team was only allotted $2,020,300 for the current signing period so they will be faced with paying an additional $20+ million tax. For the next two years they will only be allowed to sign guys to bonuses of no more than $300,000.