The 2015-2016 International signing period kicked off with a flurry activity this morning on the first day teams are able to sign, "players classified as international amateurs from all countries not subject to the June draft," as Baseball America's Ben Badler wrote this winter in an article on the bonus pools for each MLB team in the new signing period.
The Washington Nationals began the 2015-2016 period with the second-lowest bonus pool among major league teams with $1,985,400 available.
If any team exceeds its allotted bonus pool, there are penalties in place, as MLB.com's Jess Sanchez detailed in an article this morning on the start of the signing period:
"Teams that exceed the pools by 0 to 5 percent have to pay 100 percent tax, and teams that exceed the pools by 5 to 10 percent are not allowed to sign a player for more than $500,000 during the next signing period and also have to pay a 100-percent tax on the pool overage. Teams that exceed the pools by 10 to 15 percent are not allowed to sign a player for more than $300,000 during the next signing period and have to pay a 100-percent tax on the pool overage."
According to a report from Sanchez this morning, the Nationals have spent $1.5M of their bonus pool on 16-year-old Dominican outfielder Juan Soto:
Fangraphs.com's Kiley McDaniel reported as far back as early April that the Nationals and Soto had an agreement in place pending the start of the current signing period.
Juan Soto, RF, Dominican Video: Soto is rumored to have a deal for $1.5 million with the Nationals and is an advanced lefty bat with above average power potential, bat speed and arm strength.
MLB.com's Pipeline scouts, who also identified the Nationals as the favorites to sign Soto, ranked him 22nd on their list of the Top 30 International prospects, writing that the left-handed hitting and throwing outfielder, "has an above-average hit tool... is one of the most dominant hitters on the market," and, " [s]couts also consider him one of the more polished bats in this year's class."