5 most likely destinations for Cuban prospect Moncada
Let the sweepstakes begin.
Cuban prospect Yoan Moncada has been cleared to negotiate and sign with the Major League club of his choice. And there are plenty of choices.
Moncada has worked out privately for the Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers, Padres, Giants, Rangers, Rays, Tigers and Brewers. The Cubs, Phillies and Cardinals also have shown interest in the infielder, although the Cubs wouldn't be able to offer him more than $250,000 after exceeding their allotment for the 2012-13 offseason. Other teams are expected to join the mix now that Moncada is eligible to sign.
Moncada's availability as a free agent came after Major League Baseball met with the U.S. Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) for clarification regarding new guidelines for a general license for an unblocked Cuban national Tuesday, according to a memo sent to MLB clubs. MLB will begin requiring a sworn statement that says a Cuban player is in compliance with Section 515.05 of Cuban Assets Control Regulations in order to sign with a Major League team
Keep in mind that because he is under 23 and did not play in a Cuban professional league for at least five seasons, Moncada is subject to the international signing guidelines. Under the guidelines, each team is allotted a $700,000 base and a bonus pool based on the team's record in 2013 for the international signing period, which started on July 2 and ends on June 15.
The Yankees and Red Sox are among the teams that have exceeded their allotted bonus pools by more than 15 percent and are in the maximum penalty range for the upcoming 2015-16 signing period. The penalty includes a 100 percent tax on their pool overage and prohibits them from signing any pool-eligible player for more than $300,000 during the next two signing periods.
Here's a look at Moncada's five likeliest destinations, ranked in order of likelihood.
1. New York Yankees
The Yanks have a long history in the international market and were the first team to blow past their international bonus pools by signing several top prospects on July 2. That number is now close to 30, but none would be bigger than Moncada. The Yankees were among the first teams to watch him in a private workout, and they have been considered the favorites for several months.
2. Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers were runners-up in the race for Cuban pitcher Yoan Lopez, who eventually signed with the D-backs, and immediately shifted their focus to Moncada. The Dodgers have been open about their interest in Moncada, and manager Don Mattingly, along with president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman, recently watched Moncada work out in Florida. Like the Yankees, the Dodgers also can afford to pay Moncada's contract and the penalty that will follow.
3. Boston Red Sox
The Red Sox have long been known as players on the international market, and they've been aggressive in their scouting of several top Cubans for the past few years. Exhibit A: Rusney Castillo. Expect Boston, who also has been tracking Moncada's progress for several months, to be a big player in the bidding process.
4. San Diego Padres
New general manager A.J. Preller made a name for himself on the international market while he was with the Rangers, and he's been aggressively scouting Cuban players, often in person, since taking over in San Diego. The Padres might not have the money to compete with the big-market clubs, but they have Preller and a home ballpark in which the speedy Moncada can run for days.
5. Detroit Tigers
Look no further than the diverse starting lineup and the club's history with international players and it's easy to include Detroit as the dark horse in the race for Moncada. The Tigers have also shown a willingness to commit large dollars for the right player. See: Justin Verlander.