Back in September, the Astros agreed to a $5.15 million signing bonus with 20-year-old Cuban pitcher Cionel Perez. However, the deal was voided in October due to medical reasons. The two sides reworked the deal down to a $2 million signing bonus. As the Astros will pay a 100 percent luxury tax for going over their 2016-17 international bonus pool, the new deal means the club pays a total of $4 million instead of $10.3 million.
Perez expressed frustration with the situation in a letter sent to Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players’ Association. Via Ben Badler of Baseball America, Perez said, “I am happy to begin my professional career but I feel abused by this system.” He added, “I hope that you understand how these rules in my case are extremely unjust and that you make every effort for the necessary adjustments and considerations to be made. Today should be the happiest day of my life, and I cannot help but feel like I’ve just been robbed.”
Perez continued, “I am very happy and I give many thanks to the Astros for giving me the opportunity to sign again, to represent their franchise and most importantly help me achieve my dream. I know I have a great opportunity, and I will do my best to maximize that opportunity in hopes of winning the World Series that they deserve.”
It turns out that, simultaneously, Perez’s initial contract with the Astros is being treated as both real and nonexistent. With regard to the Rule 5 draft, the previous collective bargaining agreement stiuplated that any player who re-signs with a team that voided his contract must be either entered into the Rule 5 draft or put on the 40-man roster. So, in that regard, his first contract is being considered as having existed.
Perez’s initial contract is being considered as nonexistent when it comes to his amateur status. The CBA states that a free agent loses his amateur status under various conditions, one of which is having been previously contracted with a major or minor league team. If Perez’s contract had been considered as having existed, then he would lose his amateur status and be allowed to become a free agent, giving him the potential to earn more money. Perez claims he could earn $10 million from the Orioles if he weren’t considered an amateur.
International players don’t figure to be happy about the new CBA, either, if they decide to come over to the U.S. to play baseball. The new CBA limits international spending at $5-6 million per year per team. No matter which way you look, team owners are always looking to exploit the labor of its player base.