International free agent

From BR Bullpen

An international free agent or international amateur free agent is a young player originating from a country whose citizens are exempted from the amateur draft. These players are free to sign with any major league team after they turn 16, but only during specified periods. There is also a limit on the total amount of bonus money that teams can pay to such players, and major league teams can trade some of this bonus money to another team, something that happens relatively frequently.

These rules are of recent vintage. The international free agent market used to be a free-for-all with almost no rules. This led to a number of scandals over the years, prompting Major League Baseball to instigate more stringent rules in the 2010s. Given how much top-rank baseball talent comes out of countries like the Dominican Republic and Venezuela, the international signing period now receives significant media coverage, which was not the case until recently.