As we’ve discussed at length, the longer it takes the U.S. Government’s Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) to unblock 19-year-old Cuban prospect Yoan Moncada, the better the Chicago Cubs’ chances of signing him. At present, the Cubs cannot sign him unless he agrees to wait – or is blocked – until July 2.
With Moncada establishing residency out of Cuba last year, and reaching the United States already – he’s staying in Miami and holding private workouts for interested teams – no one expected his unblocking process to last past January, much less several months after that.
But, then, no one was really expecting the curveball the President threw in December, allowing for the imminent possibility of resumed diplomatic and economic relations between the U.S. and Cuba. At the time, we knew there would be an impact on future Cuban players coming to the States, but no one was quite ready to say precisely what it would be, or what the future would look like. Further, we wondered openly if there would be an impact on Moncada, specifically, who had apparently been permitted to leave Cuba, rather than having to defect. Was that because Cuba knew the thawing of relations was coming, and thus the unblocking should come quickly? Or was it simply because Cuba wanted to be cut in on the huge expected price tag for the young shortstop? If the latter, will the impending change in relations affect how the U.S. Government would otherwise view a U.S. company doing business with a Cuban individual who will then be paying some of that money to Cuba, directly?
We’ve still got more questions than answers, but FanGraphs’ Kiley McDaniel has the latest update on Moncada and these issues, and he specifically suggests that the change in foreign policy has had a direct impact on the unblocking process for Moncada. It’s possible that, if Moncada really does have some kind of arrangement with the Cuban government (no one knows that for sure, mind you), the U.S. wants to take its time before allowing Moncada to sign with an MLB team, not wanting to set precedent under this new relationship until they’re sure they’ve got it right. Previously, a primary reason for the OFAC process was to ensure that money wasn’t being funneled to an entity with whom the U.S. does not want money going. So, it’s also possible that the impending relationship change isn’t driving the delay at all – it could simply be that OFAC is really taking its time given the unique non-defection process Moncada went through to reach the States.
We’ll see if this continues to drag on (*crosses fingers*). In the interim, Moncada continues to work out for teams – he’s worked out for the Dodgers, Brewers, Rangers, Giants, Yankees, Red Sox, and Padres, per Jesse Sanchez – and the Cubs may also work him out eventually.