This week kind of turned into Yoan Moncada week, eh? From Scherzer/Fowler at the start, to regular updates on the biggest prospect to come out of Cuba since Jorge Soler and Yasiel Puig. I didn’t necessarily intend to be so Moncada-heavy, but info keeps rolling out (it tends to feed off of itself) on the 19-year-old stud … who isn’t even yet eligible to sign.
When he does finally get cleared by the U.S. Government, Moncada will find no shortage of bidders for his services, from the Yankees to the Red Sox to the Dodgers to the Rangers to the Cubs (the latter two of which would need Moncada’s clearance to be held up into June in order to have a real shot at signing him, or would probably need to let him know that if he waits until July 2 to sign, they’ll make it worth his while with an over-the-top offer).
But what about the Rays? They’ve been mentioned frequently as a possible suitor, given that they’ve already blown their current IFA budget? Or what about the Phillies? They’re a large market club going through a rebuild. Seems like a good fit, no?
As for the Rays, team president Matt Silverman confirmed to MLBN Radio that the team would be interested in Moncada and may work him out, but said that he wouldn’t expect to be the winner of an auction, if it comes to that. I got the sense that the Rays are unlikely to be a serious suitor for Moncada if his price tag reaches that $30 to $40 million range (plus $30 to $40 million in overage tax).
As for the Phillies, there’s an interesting read in Philly.com on whether they would be going after Moncada, given the seemingly perfect fit. While you don’t come away from the piece sensing that the Phillies definitely won’t be in on him, you also don’t get the sense that they’re prepared to spend tens of millions of dollars to land Moncada, specifically. Maybe I’m wrong, and it’s just a matter of GM Ruben Amaro keeping things quiet, or maybe it’s the Phillies past lack of spending in the international market, but I guess we’ll see what happens. In theory, the Phillies should have plenty of money from their new TV deal to go hard after Moncada.
It still seems to me that the most likely landing spots for Moncada are with the Yankees, the Red Sox, or the Dodgers – each of whom has tons of money, and none of whom have to convince Moncada to wait until July 2 to sign. The Yankees and Red Sox have even more of an edge, because they’ve already blown their IFA budget this year, meaning they’ll be subjected to signing restrictions for the next two years no matter what (the Dodgers are not yet in that zone). Adding Moncada costs them only money.
If Moncada receives his OFAC clearance from the U.S. Government before, say, March, I will remain extremely pessimistic about the Cubs’ chances of getting him. (Though they are reportedly planning on working him out this weekend, so they’re not ruling anything out.) Until then, we’ll just keep following his story and see what happens.