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“I don’t think anyone could disagree with the notion that getting drafted players onto the field in June and early July benefits the club and the player from a developmental standpoint,” Halem said. “That was a very important objective of the draft reforms, and we have seen a vast improvement on that issue this year compared to prior years.”

Obtaining the restrictions on amateur player costs was one of the top goals of teams in bargaining for a new labor contract. Similar restraints were placed on foreign amateur signings, with a team facing penalties if it exceeds $3.2 million in the year that began Monday.

There was a rush to get in signings before the rules change this week. In the year ending Sunday, the 30 clubs combined to spend $186 million on players from the Dominican Republic and Venezuela, up from $85 million in the year ending July 1, 2011, according to figures compiled by MLB. The amount spent on Cuban defectors increased from $27 million to $108 million, inflated by big-money deals for outfielders Yasiel Puig ($42 million over seven seasons with the Dodgers), Yoenis Cespedes ($36 million over four years with Oakland) and Andy Soler ($30 million over nine years with the Chicago Cubs).

Teams did not attempt to institute a foreign draft for 2013, a possibility under the labor contract. Instead, a management-union committee continues to examine starting an international draft in 2014.

Changes to the rules have been designed to give smaller markets a better chance to compete. The overhaul started with revenue sharing and the luxury tax that began after the 1994-95 strike and expanded with the new amateur regulations.

Commissioner Bud Selig, watching Pittsburgh vie for the NL Central lead, said all the new policies helped spread the talent wealth.

“If this were still in the late `90s, this couldn’t happen. But it is happening today,” he said. “It’s a manifestation of all the economic changes we have made _ and all for the better, I may add.”


Associated Press researcher Julie Reed contributed to this report.