Cuban infield prospect Yoan Moncada is likely to be the biggest international prospect signing in recent memory. You can read all about his awesomeness here, if you missed it. There, however, you will also read about how his timeline for availability is probably going to work against the Cubs, who are prohibited from signing any international prospects for more than $250,000 until July 2015, when the next international signing period opens up. Moncada, who is currently in Guatemala, has already been declared a free agent by MLB, and is an unblocking license from the U.S. Government away from being able to sign an extremely lucrative contract. If it comes soon, it’s going to be very hard to convince him to wait to sign until July.
To that end, Kiley McDaniel writes about the ongoing Moncada story, and it’s worth your time to read. Moncada’s presence is affecting a great many teams, as well as MLB at the entity level. It’s a little crazy how important his story seems like it could be – he may be the final impetus for an international draft, or at least even more significant penalties for exceeding bonus pools – so, even from an entirely non-Cubs perspective, it’s interesting.
In McDaniel’s view, it’s unclear how long it will take for Moncada to be unblocked, but it sounds like a matter of a few months at the longest. That could put things into February – again, that’s a really long time for the unblocking to take place – and is more than four months shy of the close of the 2014/15 IFA period (ends on June 15, and then there’s a quiet period until teams can sign new players again starting on July 2). In other words, in the most “optimistic” scenario for Moncada to get his unblocking license, the Cubs would have to make it sufficiently worth Moncada’s while to wait another four months to sign. Not impossible, but if the money was close among the other bidders, I can’t in good conscience say I wouldn’t advise Moncada to sign immediately with some other team.
Ben Badler also writes about Moncada, and mentions the eight most likely suitors – none of which is the Cubs – based on some conditions for which the Cubs would not qualify. That is to say, Badler is presuming that it is unlikely Moncada will wait to sign until July.
It’s not all bad news, though, as McDaniel reiterates something he’s said before (and he tends to be right on these things): he hears the Cubs will blow their IFA budget next year once again, as they did last year when they brought in Gleyber Torres, Eloy Jimenez, Jen-Ho Tseng, and several other top prospects in the class. Although that would subject them to the new harshest penalty – the inability to sign any player for more than $300,000 for two years – no one is really sure what’s going to happen after the current CBA expires at the end of 2016. If you want a chance to blow out the budget (a strategy that pretty clearly brings in more talent than going year to year, assuming you really pony up), next year might be the last crack. In that way, the 2015/16 IFA period might look a lot like the 2011 draft, in which many teams spent wildly (including the Cubs) knowing that the 2012 CBA would probably change things.
So, I guess pencil in July 2, 2015 for some fun.