Yoan Moncada Rumors

Yoan Moncada, 19-year-old phenom, signed a record deal to join the Red Sox. MLB Trade Rumors has all the latest as he begins his pro career.

NL West Links: Rosario, McKenry, D’Backs

Wilin Rosario or Michael McKenry could be traded before Spring Training is over, Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post opines, as the Rockies look for ways to solve their catching surplus behind starter Nick Hundley.  Manager Walt Weiss said that he doesn’t plan to use three roster spots on players who can only catch, so the club’s plan to give Rosario some time at first base could be a solution.  Colorado has explored trades for Rosario this offseason but if they hold onto him, he’d hold the edge on a roster spot over the out-of-options McKenry.

Here’s some more from around the NL West…

  • The Diamondbacks will have approximately $19.02MM in combined pool money for the 2015 draft class and the 2015-16 international signing period, though their international spending will be greatly limited due to overage in the 2014-15 period.  Given how Arizona’s pool is the second-highest of any team’s, Baseball America’s Ben Badler opines (via Twitter) that the D’Backs made a “questionable” decision to “handcuff themselves” in the international market until 2017 by going over their current pool limit to sign Yoan Lopez.
  • Padres executive chairman Ron Fowler was “pleasantly surprised” that GM A.J. Preller was able to make so many major trades this winter, though club ownership went into the offseason knowing changes had to be made.  “We knew we had to re-energize the community,” Fowler told reporters, including the Associated Press. “I think last year was sort of the beta test for us: OK, this is not working. It was time….After looking at our numbers in terms of attendance and looking at the interest in the marketplace, we felt we had to do some investment spending.”
  • From that same chat with reporters (including MLB.com’s Corey Brock), Padres president/CEO Mike Dee said that the club isn’t too disappointed over not landing Yoan Moncada.  “We would have loved to have had him, but we now have flexibility we might not have had [in future international spending],” Dee said.
  • Rick Renteria has been offered a number of jobs since being fired as the Cubs’ manager earlier this winter, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times writes, including a return to the Padres.  Though Renteria is reportedly going to take a year away from baseball, manager Bud Black has been “trying to get him to pop over to Peoria [where the Padres train] and get back involved with us.  I’m trying to get him back in as soon as possible, just to help us out to whatever extent he wants to help out.”  Before being hired by Chicago, Renteria managed and coached in the Padres’ organization for a decade, including six seasons on Black’s coaching staff.
  • Yasmani Grandal‘s strong pitch-framing metrics were a big reason the Dodgers acquired him in the Matt Kemp trade, Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles writes.

International Notes: Bonus Pools, Alvarez, Olivera

The bonus pools for the 2015-16 international signing period have been determined, Baseball America’s Ben Badler reports, providing the full list of dollar figures.  While the Diamondbacks have the largest bonus pool (just under $5.394MM) of any team due to their league-worst record in 2014, Arizona is unable to sign any pool-eligible player in both the coming signing period and the 2016-17 period for more than $300K.  The D’Backs, Yankees, Red Sox, Rays and Angels all face this penalty since they exceeded their 2013-14 spending limits, though as Badler notes, the five teams can trade the individual slot values that make up their new pools.

Here’s more about some of the game’s top international prospects…

  • Cuban right-hander Yadier Alvarez held a showcase for scouts today, MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez reports (Twitter link).  While past reports suggested Alvarez’s camp hoped to have the 18-year-old under contract to a team before the current int’l signing period ends, Sanchez reports that Alvarez isn’t eligible to sign until the 2015-16 international signing window opens on July 2.
  • Sanchez adds (via another tweet) the Rangers to the long list of teams who have already been rumored to be interested in Alvarez, and he notes that more clubs are sure to join the list.  The Rangers (and Cubs) were restricted from spending more than $250K on international prospects in 2014-15 due to overspending in the 2013-14 period, but they’ll again be able to spend more freely on July 2.
  • The Angels are also interested in Alvarez, Ross Newhan of the NewhanOnBaseball blog tweets.  If Alvarez isn’t able to sign until July 2, however, this will surely eliminate the Angels from contention since the righty will command a far higher bonus than $300K.
  • The Twins had scouts present at today’s Alvarez showcase, according to Darren Wolfson of 1500ESPN.com
  • Hector Olivera discusses his health history, his decision to leave Cuba, his transition to American baseball and more as part of a wide-ranging interview with Ben Badler of Baseball America (subscription required).
  • Olivera missed over a full season of Cuban baseball while recovering from a blood clot in his left biceps, and when he returned, he spent most of his time at DH rather than second base.  This has raised some concern with MLB scouts who wonder if Olivera is able to regularly play in the field, but as Olivera explained to Badler, his extended DH time wasn’t related to his blood issues.  “The reason was we got disqualified early (from playoff contention).  The manager and I talked about giving the younger kids a chance to play. So I asked him to just DH me and play the younger guys,” Olivera said.
  • New Red Sox signee Yoan Moncada speaks to Fangraphs’ Kiley McDaniel (audio link), noting that his preference would be to play second base in the majors.  “[My] baby is second base,” Moncada said via a translator, though he’ll play any position the Sox ask him to play.  Of course, second base doesn’t seem like a likely option for Moncada in Boston given the presence of Dustin Pedroia and Mookie Betts blocking him at the position.

NL East Notes: Turner, Moncada, Ichiro, Markakis

Shortstop Trea Turner is technically still a member of the Padres, but it’s one of baseball’s worst-kept “secrets” that he’ll be headed to the Nationals in June as a player to be named later in the three-team Wil Myers trade once he’s a year removed from being drafted. Turner tells Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune that while he does find the situation to be a bit weird, he’s happy to have had a normal camp thus far. “A little bit. It’s been awesome, though, because a lot of my teammates don’t really care too much about it. They know the business side, and things like this can happen all the time, so I haven’t been treated differently than I thought I would.” Turner’s agent, Jeff Berry of CAA Sports, called the situation “unconscionable” at the time of the trade but released the following statement yesterday, per Lin: “Trea has put this matter behind him and is focusing on his development and being a productive member of the Padres organization.”

Some more notes pertaining to the NL East…

  • Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. tells MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki that his team was in contact with Yoan Moncada‘s agent, David Hastings, right up until the end when Moncada agreed to sign with the Red Sox this week. However, Amaro declined to get into specifics or even give a “yes” or “no” answer when asked by Zolecki if the Phillies submitted a formal offer for the highly touted 19-year-old.
  • Ichiro Suzuki is appreciative of how accommodating the Marlins were during negotiations, and the positive feelings he got from the organization are a large reason that he signed there, writes Christina De Nicola of FOX Sports Florida. (For example, the Marlins have added facilities for Ichiro’s Pilates machine in their Spring Training and regular season homes, said Ichiro through a translator.) He’s also very accepting of his role as a fourth outfielder, which manager Mike Redmond said was a key component in the deal.
  • New Braves right fielder Nick Markakis has been cleared for running and extensive workouts, reports David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Markakis won’t be in the lineup for the early games in Spring Training and isn’t sure if he’ll be ready to compete come Opening Day, but he tells O’Brien that’s absolutely his goal. Manager Fredi Gonzalez tells O’Brien that he is optimistic that Markakis, who signed a four-year, $44MM contract this winter, will be ready for the opener come April 6.


More On The Pursuit And Signing Of Yoan Moncada

Yoan Moncada will be in Fort Myers tomorrow to begin the process of taking his physical and finalizing his contract with the Red Sox, Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe reports (Twitter links). Boston has also agreed to terms with Carlos Mesa, a 26-year-old friend of Moncada, according to Moncada’s agent David Hastings.

Here’s more on the offer process as well as some viewpoints on the signing:

  • The Globe’s Alex Speier breaks down the signing from all angles from the Red Sox perspective.
  • The Padres made an approximately $25MM offer to Moncada, MLB.com’s Corey Brock reports on Twitter. Meanwhile, the Brewers‘ were interested only to the $12MM to $15MM range, MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy tweets. Milwaukee came in early with an offer, learned it would not be competitive, and then bowed out, as Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports.
  • Though the Giants were interested in Moncada, but not at his price tag, GM Brian Sabean tells Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle (Twitter links). “We were involved, not as much as other teams,” said Sabean. “We’re not built for that. Nor is most of baseball.” That sounds similar to the fate of the Tigers, who as Chris Iott of MLive.com writes had legitimate interest but bowed out fairly early on. “We scouted him,” said assistant GM Al Avila. “We had him here for a private workout. Once we knew where the money was going, it was just a point that we had our money invested in other areas.”
  • ESPN.com’s Keith Law (Insider link) writes that Moncada would have been the first or second player taken in this year’s relatively weak draft, and profiles as a top-ten talent in any year. As Law notes, the signing could be a piece of a push for change, as the league looks to hold down the bonuses going to young Cuban ballplayers.
  • In the long term, the Red Sox do not have a backlog worthy of concern, Ben Carlsley of Baseball Prospectus writes. As he explains, the signing perhaps makes it easier for Boston to deal prospects for a starter, but does not create any pressure toward such a result. The bottom line is that the team has immense flexibility.
  • As Jeff Sullivan of Fangraphs explains, there is a wide variety of possible outcomes even for highly-touted position players. Per his colleague Dave Cameron, a rough weighted valuation of those possible outcomes makes the ultimate price tag look reasonable.

Details On The Runners Up For Yoan Moncada

Earlier this morning, the Red Sox reportedly struck an agreement with Cuban phenom Yoan Moncada, landing the 19-year-old switch-hitter with a $31.5MM signing bonus that will cost the team $63MM due to the 100 percent luxury tax it faces for exceeding its international bonus pool. Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweeted shortly after the agreement was struck that the Yankees offered $25MM with a willingness to go to $27MM. Here are some more details on the tail end of a free agency that resulted in the largest signing bonus an international amateur has ever received…

  • The Dodgers never actually made a formal offer for Moncada, GM Farhan Zaidi tells Pedro Moura of the Orange County Register (Twitter links). Though general terms were discussed, the GM explained that Los Angeles weighed other considerations that tempered its interest: “There’s a lot of talent coming July 2. The calculus of that was a big part of our equation.”
  • Steinbrenner was “not the reason” that the Yankees didn’t go higher for Moncada, Matthews tweets, reversing his earlier report (see below).

Earlier Updates

  • The Yankees, Red Sox and Brewers were the three finalists for Moncada, tweets Sherman. However, the Dodgers may have offered the most money, but it came with a price; L.A. was willing to go to $35MM on the condition that Moncada wait until July 2 in order to sign. Doing so would have given the Dodgers unrestricted spending next period, giving them a shot at all the top prospects on the market without the Yankees and Red Sox to compete against. It’s also been reported that Yadier Alvares can’t sign before July 2, so the Dodgers likely could have made a run at both.
  • Indeed, Sherman tweets that the Dodgers are waiting until the new signing period begins on July 2 to spend significantly, and they plan to be very aggressive when that time comes.
  • Yankees GM Brian Cashman badly wanted to sign Moncada, tweets Wallace Matthews of ESPN New York, but he couldn’t convince owner Hal Steinbrenner to spend any more than the reported $27MM figure. The GM told reporters, including MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch (Twitter link), that New York was asked to make its best offer yesterday. He was subsequently informed that it was not sufficient.
  • There was “a feeling from some” that Moncada wanted to end up with the Yankees, but the team simply viewed it as too risky to spend $60-70MM on a prospect, reports Andrew Marchand of ESPN New York (All Twitter links). The Yankees feel that they can buy a proven Major Leaguer with that type of money in the future, and the Red Sox ultimately valued him more, Marchand adds.
  • Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports writes that the Padres were also considered finalists along with the four teams mentioned by Sherman. One team involved in the bidding, Passan adds, was so confident in Moncada’s abilities that they believed him to be capable of jumping directly into the Majors. Instead, he’ll head to the lower levels of Boston’s minor league system.
  • Via MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy and Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel (Twitter links), the Brewers‘ interest in Moncada was sincere. GM Doug Melvin believes that he was the first of any GM to submit a formal offer, but the team learned quickly that they wouldn’t be able to sign Moncada
  • Ben Badler of Baseball America notes (Twitter links) that some of the biggest winners in this scenario are Hector Olivera and next signing period’s crop of international amateurs. As Badlery points out, Olivera is being pursued by a number of teams who were also interested in Moncada, but the Red Sox aren’t involved in his market. Moncada signing with Boston means that Olivera didn’t lose a suitor. As for the rest of the international amateurs, they and their trainers are rejoicing, Badler says. The Red Sox were already over their bonus pool, so Moncada signing with them prevents another team (e.g. the Dodgers or Brewers) from going over their pool, giving the next wave of players another suitor.

Red Sox To Sign Yoan Moncada

9:10am: Moncada will receive a $31.5MM signing bonus from the Red Sox, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post (Twitter links). Sherman adds that the Yankees offered $25MM with a willingness to spend up to $27MM if needed.

Because Boston had already exceeded its international bonus pool — the Sox signed right-handers Chris Acosta and Anderson Espinoza for a combined $3.3MM on July 2 despite having a $188MM signing pool — the team will pay a full 100 percent tax on Moncada’s bonus, bringing the total cost for his services to $63MM.

8:10am: The Red Sox and Cuban infielder Yoan Moncada have reached agreement on a signing bonus in the range of $30MM, reports MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez (via Twitter). Of course, by signing Moncada to a bonus in the $30MM range, the Red Sox will also be paying a luxury tax worth roughly that same amount, making this in total an approximately $60MM expenditure for Boston. On top of that, the Red Sox will now be restricted from signing any international amateur for more than $300K in the 2015-16 and the 2016-17 international signing periods.

Moncada, a 19-year-old switch-hitting infielder, is the most sought-after international prospect in recent history. Said to be a true five-tool talent, scouts have likened his upside to that of Robinson Cano and Chase Utley (in his prime). Prospect specialists at Baseball America, MLB.com, Baseball Prospectus and Fangraphs have all suggested that Moncada would rank in the top five to 15 prospects in Major League Baseball upon signing, which will make him Boston’s new No. 1 prospect. Unlike recent Cuban signings such as Jose Abreu and Rusney Castillo, however, Moncada will likely require at least one season in the minors — possibly two.

Over the past several months, the Red Sox have been one of the primary teams connected to Moncada, although many believed the Yankees and Dodgers to be in a better position to land him, as the Red Sox don’t have a clear long-term need in the infield with Dustin Pedroia at second base and Pablo Sandoval entering the first of a five-year, $95MM contract. (Sandoval, of course, could move over to first base in a few years.) Xander Bogaerts figures to be the long-term answer at shortstop, though the expectation among scouts is that Moncada will end up at second, third or possibly in center field (where Castillo is currently slotted).

As Sanchez wrote last week, the overage tax must be paid to the league in full by July 15, whereas the bonus can be paid out in installments over the course of the next three years. It’s not known at this time whether or not the Red Sox made the best offer, but agent David Hastings did say recently that size of the bonus would not be the sole determining factor in choosing a team. Moncada also had private workouts for the Yankees, Dodgers, Padres, Brewers, Rays, D-Backs, Tigers, Giants, Rangers and Cubs (though the last two would have been ineligible to sign him until July 2, as they had incurred maximum penalties in the 2013-14 international signing period, thereby restricting them in the 2014-15 period).

With this agreement, Moncada has absolutely shattered the previous record signing bonus for an international amateur. That distinction was held briefly by infielder Roberto Baldoquin, following his $8MM bonus from the Angels earlier this winter, and then held even more briefly by right-hander Yoan Lopez, who received an $8.27MM bonus from the D-Backs. The size of Moncada’s bonus will likely come up in discussing the next collective bargaining agreement, as it figures to be a major talking point among proponents of an international draft.


Latest On Yoan Moncada

Here’s the latest on Cuban phenom Yoan Moncada:

  • Bids on Moncada are believed to have passed the $20MM mark, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports writes. The Yankees, Red Sox and Padres appear to be the front-runners for Moncada, with the Dodgers a less likely possibility. Heyman suggests earlier reports of a $50MM price tag might be a bit lofty, given that Moncada is only 19 and given the tax that the team signing him would have to pay.
  • Cuban Red Sox pitcher Dalier Hinojosa sees plenty of  upside in Moncada, who he saw in Serie Nacional in 2012, WEEI.com’s John Tomase and Rob Bradford report. “He’s what we call a five-tool player here, and he was that back then. He can run, throw, he’s physical, hit from both sides, hit for power, hit for average,” Hinojosa says. Hinojosa’s main suggestion for Moncada in adjusting to U.S. baseball is to allow his coaches to help him.

Cafardo On Hamels, Moncada, Victorino

In today’s column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes that the Yankees could actually make a bit of money off of Alex Rodriguez‘s return. The curiosity factor regarding his return is going to generate increased ticket revenue, better TV ratings, and more interest and activity in the Yankees’ brand and licensing, in Cafardo’s estimation.  More from today’s column..

  • Even though Cole Hamels wants out of Philadelphia, that doesn’t mean the Phillies will rush to make a deal, a team source tells Cafardo.  The Phillies don’t have to do anything out of desperation since they’re a big market team with deep pockets and they’re willing to wait for the right deal, perhaps until the trade deadline.  Of course, that plan could backfire and the potential return could drop, but a contending team or two in need of a frontline pitcher could drive the price up.
  • One GM that was in the hunt for Yoan Moncada but is no longer in the mix said he would bet on the Yankees winning the sweepstakes. “I think their need is great,” said the GM. “They can sell it as the replacement for Robinson Cano. I don’t think anyone wants to pay out that bonus, but he is a special talent and may be the best of the Cuban hitters who have come over.”
  • Red Sox manager John Farrell recently said the club will start veteran Shane Victorino in right field if he’s healthy, but Cafardo isn’t buying it.  If he is healthy, the Boston Globe scribe expects him to draw interest and be moved.
  • Despite rumblings to the contrary, Red Sox chairman Tom Werner says there have been no changes to Larry Lucchino’s role as president and CEO of the Red Sox. “It’s a non-story,” said Werner. “There is no change in his role, nor is there a so-called power struggle. Larry is reporting to John [Henry, the principal owner] and myself, as always.”

Latest On Yoan Moncada

Yoan Moncada is expected to field final offers this weekend, tweets Scott Miller of Bleacher Report. A decision could come early next week. Miller highlights the Yankees and Dodgers as two favorites to put forward a big offer. Here’s more regarding the final market for the young Cuban.

  • The Yankees, Red Sox, and Padres are thought to be the front runners to land Moncada, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Heyman notes that this is based on speculation from two rival executives rather than a source in Moncada’s camp. While the Yankees “love” Moncada, a New York official claimed Boston was “all over” him.
  • The Dodgers are “lurking” per Heyman. His sources wonder if they might not be more interested in other Cubans like Hector Olivera or Yadier Alvarez.
  • The Brewers could be a surprise entrant to the bidding. As you would expect, a small market club might have trouble outbidding the industry titans. Considering an estimated total cost ranging from $70MM to $80MM (including the 100% tax), it would come as a real shock if Milwaukee managed to sign Moncada. Similarly, Heyman wonders if San Diego has the money to muscle past their large market rivals.

Latest On Yoan Moncada

The final stage of the Yoan Moncada sweepstakes may be at hand, according to the most recent reports:

  • Moncada’s recent workout with the Yankees “sounds like” the last he’ll put on in advance of negotiations, Ben Badler of Baseball America reports on Twitter. The “expectation” is that Moncada will sign with a team next week.
  • Some offers are already in hand but more are still expected to come in, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times tweets. A signing is expected “soon,” which would allow Moncada to make into camp on time (or, perhaps, with a short delay).
  • The Rays may put in an offer for Moncada, Topkin tweets, but the expectation is that their number will not be competitive.