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Astros have top pool for international signings

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HOUSTON -- The Astros will have the most money to spend of any team during the international signing period starting July 2, with a bonus pool of $5,015,400, the product of finishing last season with the worst record.

Houston will have the second-highest bonus pool for the first 10 rounds of the 2014 First-Year Player Draft, at $13,362,200, behind the Marlins' $14,199,300. Miami has 13 picks in the first 10 rounds, which is why they'll have more money.

The Astros have the No. 1 overall pick for the third year in a row, which this season is valued at $7,922,100, just shy of the all-time Draft bonus record of $8 million, paid by the Pirates to No. 1 overall selection Gerrit Cole in 2011.

The Draft pools cover the top 10 rounds and any bonus money in excess of $100,000 given to players taken in rounds 11-40. If a player selected in the first 10 rounds doesn't sign, his assigned value is subtracted from his team's pool. There are penalties for exceeding Draft bonus pools.

The international bonus pools cover signings from July 2 through June 15 of the following year. Players who are at least 23 years old and have played in a professional league recognized by the Commissioner's Office (such as in Cuba or Japan) for a minimum of five seasons don't count against the pool, nor do players who sign for $10,000 or less.

Clubs are penalized for exceeding their allotments for international players, but not as harshly as they are with the Draft. Any overage is taxed at a 100 percent rate. In addition, teams can't sign a player in the next signing period for more than $500,000 if they surpass their pool by more than 5 percent and up to 10 percent; can't sign a player in the next signing period for more than $300,000 if they go over by more than 10 percent and up to 15 percent; and can't sign a player in the next two signing periods for more than $300,000 if they exceed their allotment by more than 15 percent.

Brian McTaggart is reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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