Wednesday March 18th, 2015

Commissioner Rob Manfred said he is in favor of an international draft to level the playing field for small market teams, Paul Hoynes of Cleveland.com reports.

Under the current setup, only players from the United States and Canada are eligible for the first-year draft each June. There are strict limitations on the contract and signing bonuses of players that go through the draft process.

The process for signing international players, however, results in much higher contracts and bonuses. Teams are given an allotted amount of money to spend on international players and are taxed if they go beyond the amount.

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Recently, the Red Sox signed Cuban prospect Yoan Moncada to a contract that included a record $31.5 million signing bonus. Since the United States government announced new steps to improve its relationship with Cuba last year, Manfred said an international draft will be an important step for baseball.

"With the relaxation that's taken place with respect of Cuban players it has put a stress test on that international system," said Manfred. "Frankly, it's proved wanting. I am of the view that at some point, for the good of the game, for the good of competitive balance, we are going to have an international draft."

In February, Rays pitcher Drew Smyly criticized the international signing rules, citing the higher payments to Cuban players as unfair.

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- Paul Palladino

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