International signing period opens

Today marks the beginning of the international signing period as well, something that didn’t really get much press until the last few years. Now you’d get the impression that it’s covered as deeply as the First-Year Player Draft. For those who may have missed it last night, here are all the ins and outs of this signing period as it concerns the Pirates.

One point to reemphasize — the Pirates will again have a signing bonus budget of $2 million. However, if they make offers to players commanding bonuses in the high six-figure or seven-figure amounts (i.e. Miguel Sano), that won’t come out of that $2 million. It would come with the approval of owner Bob Nutting, who would make extra money available as necessary. As players sign — and yes, many of them have already come to handshake agreements — I’ll pass along that information.

UPDATE 12 pm: The Pirates have announced that they have signed three Taiwanese players: outfielder Ping-Hung Chi, 18; RHP Sheng-Cin Hong, 18; and 1B Chih–Wei Hsu, 17.

Also, don’t expect many other names to come out today. As GM Neal Huntington just emphasized to me again, July 2 is way over-hyped. It’s not like the amateur Draft here where there is the day. It likely won’t be for a few days, and in some cases weeks, before other signings are made official and announced.

UPDATE 12:10 pm: The Pirates have not made an offer to Miguel Sano, a source has confirmed. Sano is sure to demand a significant seven-figure bonus, though it’s unclear how high a bonus other teams will be willing to offer. The 16-year-old infielder from the Dominican Republic is considered by many to be the top talent available in this year’s international pool.

UPDATE 2 pm: The latest word is that the Pirates are currently “working through things” with Sano, a source says, which very well could mean an offer has been made to Sano. It’s unclear still, though, what the Pirates’ initial offer would be. Remember, too, that this is not a signing that is expected to happen on Thursday, regardless of what teams are involved.    

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