James Shields is the biggest name out there in free agency, but his story remains opaque and confusing. Speaking of opaque and confusing …
- This week’s flurry of Yoan Moncada news has taken a little time to digest, but with an additional update from Jesse Sanchez, and another from Ben Badler, I think I’ve got the lay of the land. The U.S. Government no longer requires Cuban defectors to get a specific license before signing with an MLB team (the specific license takes several months, involves an OFAC investigation to determine whether the player would be funneling money back to Cuba, and whether their documentation is totally legit), and instead they need only the general license that comes with establishing residency in a non-Cuban country. But MLB has been requiring players to get the specific license anyway, because then MLB is protected from liability if the player’s documents turn out to be in any way imperfect. Indeed, it sounds like MLB has been adding this extra requirement for several years now. But with the heavy publicity Moncada has gotten, coupled with the U.S./Cuba relationship changing, MLB is seeking clarity from the U.S. Government that, if they allow teams to sign Cuban players under a general license, they won’t be liable (assuming they engage in some kind of good faith investigation). If that clarity comes soon – and it might – Moncada could be a free agent within a matter of weeks. If, however, there are protracted, high-level negotiations required between MLB and the U.S. Government, Moncada could be caught in the middle for a little while. With the Cubs now publicly identified as one of four favorites for Moncada, you’re hoping for additional delay.
- Speaking of which, Moncada isn’t the only big name prospect out there affected by all of this, though he is the biggest. There’s also infielder Andy Ibanez, about whom Badler wrote today. He sounds like an excellent prospect in his own right, and one likely to command way more than any team’s IFA pool. That means that he, too, would be out of the Cubs’ reach unless he was blocked until, or was convinced to wait until, the Cubs are able to spend freely on July 2. (There’s also Guillermo Heredia in the defection process, though he’s not subject to IFA restrictions.)
- The on-again-off-again Brewers-Phillies romance over closer Jonathan Papelbon may be on again, according to Tom Haudricourt. He says the Brewers still want to find a way to get it done.
- Speaking of upper-end relievers, the Nationals just replaced Tyler Clippard (traded to the A’s) with free agent Casey Janssen, who gets a one-year, $3.5 million deal, which comes with a $7 million mutual option for 2016 ($1.5 million buyout – so he’s guaranteed at least $5 million unless he’s the one who passes on the $7 million in 2016). Janssen, 33, was excellent for several years running until last season, when he may have been torpedoed by a severe case of food poisoning and then rushing back too quickly.
- An interesting pair of moves on the South Side, with the White Sox bringing back Gordon Beckham for $2 million, and DFA’ing Dayan Viciedo to open a roster spot. Assuming the Sox simply let Viciedo go, they’ll owe him 30 days termination pay (about $700,000 of the $4.4 million deal he’d agreed to). The 25-year-old Viciedo has been something of a disappointment in his time with the Sox.