Monday, February 23, 2015
The Red Sox have signed 19-year-o;d Cuban sensation Yoan Moncada for $31.5 million. However, because Boston exceeded its international signing pool allotment, it will pay a 100 percent tax on the signing, bringing the total cost to $63 million.
The Cuban teen was widely expected to land a bonus in the $40-50 million range, making this a steal for the Red Sox.
Moncada has been described as the best Cuban prospect in decades; better than Yasiel Puig, Jose Abreu, or Yoenis Cespedes when they left Cuba.
No Cuban player that age has "created so much hype among the Cuban baseball establishment since Omar Linares, the 1980s star widely regarded as the best talent ever from the island," wrote Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports last fall.
At 6'2", 200 pounds, Moncada has the body of a linebacker, but projects as a major league second or third baseman. While the teen played shortstop, second and third in Cuba, given his size and athleticism, he could probably play all three outfield spots in the majors too.
Moncada is a switch-hitter and has been described as a five tool player — a truly rare distinction.
Virtually every team in baseball coveted Moncada, who generated serious interest from a group that included the Red Sox, Yankees, Dodgers, Padres, Phillies and Brewers. The young phenom also had private workouts with the Tigers, Giants, Rangers and Rays.
The Yankees were viewed as the favorite to sign Moncada, making this a double victory by Boston.
Former Red Sox great, and Cuban native, Luis Tiant reportedly helped to persuade Moncada, who joins countryman Rusney Castillo as the second Cuban player signed by the Red Sox in the last seven months. Castillo signed to a seven-year, $72.5 million deal last August.
After leaving Cuba legally, Moncada has spent the last 14 months in baseball limbo. So, he will need to rid himself of the rust and rediscover his many skills.
As a result, Moncada will start his career in the minors, where he will likely spend the entire 2015 season. Once he arrives in the majors, he will be subject to the standard salary scale: three seasons near the league minimum, then three in arbitration. The $31.5 million is merely a signing bonus.
Moncada is known for his excellent bat speed and plus raw power. He also possesses plus speed, running the 60-yard dash in around 6.6 seconds.
Because the Red Sox went beyond the bonus pool allotment, they cannot spend more than $300,000 on an international amateur for the next two signing periods.
But, since they clearly believe that Moncada is better than any other player in the international pipeline for the next two years, he is worth the gamble.
After all, Moncada is viewed as a once-in-a-generation player.
In fact, Ben Badler of Baseball America writes that Moncada is now one of the top-10 prospects in all of baseball and ranks as the Red Sox’s top prospect, projecting him to become a power-hitting third baseman or second baseman.
The Red Sox, and their fans, may be celebrating this move for years to come.