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Three more Cuban baseball players leave Cuba

Ben Badler writes that three more Cuban baseball players have left Cuba

Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

Three more Cuban baseball players have left the country, according to Baseball America's Ben Badler, including 20 year old first baseman Lazaro Alonso, who would be subject to the J-2 international free agent bonus restrictions, and 29 year old outfielder Osniel Madera, who would not be subject to restrictions.  20 year old catcher Yoel Rojas, described by Badler as his team's #4 catcher, is the third player who has left.

While Madera is someone who could potentially help a team immediately, Alonso appears to be the big prize of this group, and whether or not the Rangers pursue him will depend at least in part on how quickly he clears.  Badler noted on Twitter that it would "cut it close" for Alonso to be cleared to sign with an MLB team before July 2, 2015.

The Rangers cannot sign any player before July 2, 2015, for a bonus of more than $250,000, due to penalties incurred by Texas spending more than their allocated J-2 bonus pool in 2013.  If Alonso is cleared before then, teams like the Yankees and Red Sox, who are over the cap this year, can pursue him.  If he is not cleared until after July 2, however, those teams will have spending restrictions in place until July 2, 2017, and the Rangers' restrictions will have been lifted, giving Texas the ability to spend big on Alonso while eliminating some deep-pocketed competitors.

What complicates matters is what the Rangers' play for this coming signing period is.  If Texas is planning on going over their bonus pool anyway, then spending big on Alonso wouldn't be a problem.  However, that would keep the Rangers from spending more than $250,000 on a J-2 eligible player until 2018.

On the other hand, with what will likely be about $7.5 million in their bonus pool this summer -- the third largest pool, by virtue of having the third-worst record in MLB in 2015 -- Texas could opt to not bust their spending limits this July, knowing that they can bring in a significant haul with the pool money available this year.  They could then go into the July 2, 2016, international signing period planning to bust their pool and incur penalties when they have a smaller pool available to them anyway, and while also having less competition, since teams that went over their cap both in the 2014 and 2015 signing periods would be ineligible to spend big money on an individual player in the 2016 J-2 period.

Kiley McDaniel wrote in October that the new rules have teams agreeing to verbal deals with top players much earlier than in past years, and it isn't unreasonable to believe that the Rangers have earmarked a good chunk of their budget for particular players in the 2015 J-2 class.  If that is the case, and if the Rangers are not planning on going over their bonus pool, that could put the Rangers in a position where they may end up passing on bidding on Alonso because of the implications it would have on their ability to sign 2016 J-2 players.

Of course, it may be that the Rangers wouldn't be willing to spend on Alonso like some other teams would anyway, or it may be that they're planning on busting their spending limit this summer anyway.  But this is something to keep an eye on, and yet another wrinkle that is caused by MLB's international spending limits, a wrinkle which probably wasn't anticipated when this was put in place.