The Cincinnati Reds are in their second and final year of serving penalties for spending more money than they were allowed in the 2016 signing period. Next year they will be in the same grouping as every other team in baseball. They will be limited to a set amount of spending. But they will have the ability to trade for additional spending space if they choose. Team can acquire up to 75% of their original amount.

Major League Baseball has set up the rules to try and make the playing field more even for everyone. It’s also set up to limit the spending on players. The owners want to spend less money on players but still be able to get those same caliber of players. And since they set the rules, and the Major League Baseball Players Association is far too willing to sell away the rights to those players not on the 40-man roster, the owners can do that.

Ben Badler of Baseball America first reported the two new rules changes this afternoon. Here are how things have changed:

  • Amateur players are allowed to enter team facilities at earlier dates, beginning 18 months prior to when they become eligible to sign.

  • Teams can pay for travel expenses earlier in the process for international players, which in particular could have an impact on where and how clubs evaluate Venezuelan players.

As Badler notes, these changes could be significant. Previously, players weren’t allowed to be at team facilities until they were 16, or until 6 months prior to their eligible signing date. The new rule changes that, and you can view it as both a good, or a bad thing.

How could the rule change be good? Well, now teams will be able to gather more information on a player leading up to their signing. Having a longer track record of being able to see the player – how the skills have grown, how their body has grown – that could provide a lot of very important information for the teams. It could also be the difference in a significant amount of money for a player to get. Or for a team to spend on that player.

The area where it could hurt is a bit more complicated. The previous rule was put in place to keep teams from coming to early agreements with players. Teams would agree to deals with players well before they were 16. Those players would in turn stop going to other teams and having workouts. That was viewed as unfair, and certainly skirted the rules. But after that rule was put in place, teams still did the same thing as before. Not much really changed as far as early agreements go. The only difference was that they weren’t being agreed to as early as they used to be. But the process remained the same and teams still had guys locked up long before they were eligible to sign.

Now you can see players sooner. But teams can, and most certainly will, still come to agreements with guys and essentially take them off of the market well before they’re ever eligible to sign. That could hurt teams as they may be agreeing to bring a kid in when he’s barely 14 or 15-years-old, and by the time he’s 16, things have changed. Maybe that’s good for the team if the change is for the good. But maybe it’s bad if the player didn’t quite develop in that time as they had hoped.

If you want more information on the exact rules when it comes to travel expenses or the time frame changes to when players can come to visit the facilities, click the linked article above. Badler gets into the details of all of those things there.