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.

Quick Hits: Marlins, Montreal, Moncada, Hamilton

Thanks in part to revenue sharing, the Marlins remain profitable, and Jeffrey Loria’s fellow owners might take issue with his indecisive and costly approach to building a team, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports writes. The Marlins are now paying two former managers who are still under contract (Mike Redmond and Ozzie Guillen), plus former executives Larry Beinfest and Jim Fleming. They’re also paying former catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia through next season. Meanwhile, their attendance remains poor despite the recent opening of Marlins Park. Here’s more from throughout the game.

  • Redmond’s firing demonstrates the Marlins’ inability to follow a steady course, Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports writes. The manager the Marlins hire tomorrow will be their eighth in the last decade, the others being Jack McKeon, Joe Girardi, Fredi Gonzalez, Edwin Rodriguez, McKeon again, Guillen and Redmond.
  • Montreal mayor Denis Coderre will meet with MLB commissioner Rob Manfred on May 28, and he plans to convey to Manfred the city’s love for baseball, the Associated Press reports. Montreal, of course, hasn’t had a team since the Expos were moved to Washington following the 2004 season. Coderre would like for big-league baseball to return, but it sounds like he expects it will be awhile before that can happen. “I don’t want to negotiate openly, but we’ll clearly talk about Montreal,” he says. “We need a step-by-step approach. You don’t pull the flower to make it grow faster.”
  • The Greenville Drive, the Red Sox‘ Class A affiliate, have announced that Yoan Moncada will make his professional debut Monday night, playing second base. The 19-year-old Cuban phenom had been in extended spring training. Red Sox fans will surely be paying close attention to tomorrow’s box score, hoping for hints as to what to expect from Moncada, who officially signed for a $31.5MM bonus in mid-March.
  • Josh Hamilton hasn’t yet joined the Rangers, but he’s happy to be back in the Dallas area on a rehab assignment with Double-A Frisco, Ryan Gerbosi of the Dallas Morning News writes. “It’s been a good reception,” says Hamilton. “It’s been good to hear a little twang in people’s voices and just go out there and it’s just a good feeling.” Hamilton, who has also played a handful of games for Triple-A Round Rock, doubled today in his second game with the RoughRiders and appears close to a return from his shoulder injury.
  • 19-year-old lefty Cionel Perez has left Cuba in search of a deal with a big-league team, but MLB’s registration rules will be an obstacle, Ben Badler of Baseball America writes. (Perez’s departure from Cuba was originally reported by MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez.) Badler notes that Perez isn’t a top-tier prospect, but he has improved his standing lately and had become one of the better pitchers in Cuba before his departure. (Badler notes in a subscriber-only scouting report that Perez is small, at 5-foot-10, but has added velocity lately and is now throwing in the low 90s.) Because Perez was born after September 1, 1995, though, and has not yet registered with the commissioner’s office, he will not be eligible to sign until the international signing period that begins next July. Once he’s eligible, he will be subject to rules regarding international bonus pools.

East Notes: Moncada, Zimmermann, Miller

Yoan Moncada made his debut in a Red Sox uniform yesterday, though it was not as publicized as the one he’ll eventually make in the big leagues. As David Dorsey of News-Press.com reports from extended Spring Training, Moncada’s coaches and teammates have been impressed with his work ethic early on. While literally only one fan was on hand to see it — Mr. Tony Medina of Fort Myers will have a unique story if Moncada lives up to his contract — the young Cuban banged a stand-up triple in his first plate appearance (video available at the above link).

Here’s the latest from the eastern divisions, featuring some other offseason storylines:

  • Nationals GM Mike Rizzo confirmed that he held offseason talks with the Red Sox about starter Jordan Zimmermann, Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald reports. Nothing ever materialized despite what “looks like a reasonable matchup on paper,” said Rizzo, who explained that the teams had serious discussions over realistic scenarios. “I don’t think we laughed away any of [the offers],” Rizzo said. “We took them all serious. We were fortunate to be in a position where we didn’t have to move the player and if we would’ve got the right deal we would’ve. The right deal is in the eye of the beholder and we felt like we needed to get legitimate value for who Zimmermann was, and not the fact that he has one year left of control.”
  • The Orioles never pursued lefty Andrew Miller this offseason beyond a single “touch-base” conversation, Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports. That was, of course, not due to any dissatisfaction with Miller’s services down the stretch, but merely reflected the reality that he was going to (and did) command a significant commitment in free agency. Miller — who discussed his free agent experience on a recent episode of the MLBTR Podcast — has continued to dominate since joining the division-rival Yankees, including a lock-down 1 2/3 inning appearance last night at Baltimore.

Quick Hits: Breslow, Kang, Marlins

Reliever Craig Breslow, the Red Sox‘ representative to the MLBPA, is opposed to an international draft and would like for it to remain possible for international free agents to receive bonuses as big as Yoan Moncada‘s, Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald writes. A huge deal like Moncada’s would likely be impossible with an international draft in place. “I think while, intuitively, people may look at a guy who has never played here and gets a big signing bonus and there’s potentially some envy, I think the greater membership (of players) understands that anytime we can eliminate restrictions to signing, that’s a good thing,” says Breslow. On Sunday, Breslow visited with MLBPA head Tony Clark, who has voiced skepticism about the idea of an international draft. Here are more notes from around the big leagues.

  • Jung-ho Kang, who signed this offseason for four years and $11MM plus a posting fee of around $5MM, provides the Pirates with a low-cost insurance policy throughout their infield, Newsday’s David Lennon writes. Second baseman Neil Walker and first baseman Pedro Alvarez can become free agents after 2016, while third baseman Josh Harrison will become eligible after 2017 (and can be moved around the diamond if needed). That means the Pirates could turn to Kang at one of a number of positions, perhaps getting a starter at a cost of only a few million dollars a year. “If he turns out to be a regular player, it’s a great signing for us,” says Huntington. “If he turns out to be a role player, it’s still an OK signing for us. And if we’ve missed, well, it won’t cripple us. But it will hurt us.”
  • Marlins president David Samson says the team’s decisions to sign Giancarlo Stanton and Christian Yelich arose out of their struggles in 2012, MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro writes. That year, the Marlins prepared for the opening of their new ballpark by acquiring Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, Heath Bell and Carlos Zambrano. Those big outside acquisitions didn’t work out, and the Marlins finished 69-93. “I truly felt that opening the ballpark and making splashes was the way to do it and it didn’t lead to sustainability,” says Samson. “That was a big moment for all of us in our history and I got it wrong, completely, almost in every way.” Instead of building their team around veterans, then, they’re focusing on keeping the right core players in Miami.

Cafardo On Roster Size, Cueto, Moncada, Maddon

Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe opines baseball needs to expand its roster and suggests a 28-man limit with 25 eligible on game day. MLB spokesman Pat Courtney told Cafardo there have been discussions about roster expansion, but nothing has advanced. There are obstacles with increased salaries and insurances costs, but those issues, according to Cafardo, are outweighed by the 162-game schedule becoming too much for a player’s body to handle. Cafardo also proposes baseball convene a panel of players who avoided the disabled list throughout their careers to determine if there are any patterns to their remaining healthy.

In other items from Cafardo’s Sunday Baseball Notes column:

  • According to one GM, Johnny Cueto “will get a Max Scherzer deal” if the Reds right-hander can put together a 15-20-win season. Cueto ranks fifth on MLBTR’s 2016 Free Agent Power Rankings list.
  • The Yankees were given the opportunity to top the Red Sox‘s $31.5MM offer to Yoan Moncada, but declined. “We scouted him extensively for years,” Yankees GM Brian Cashman said. “I feel we put him through the highest level of scouting and medical evaluation. I just wasn’t comfortable offering what we actually offered ($25MM), let alone going any higher.
  • For now, the Red Sox will play Moncada at second base, but his eventual position will depend on Boston’s needs in the next couple of years.
  • The tampering allegation made by the Rays over the Cubs‘ hiring of Joe Maddon is still alive.
  • The Red Sox are showcasing Jemile Weeks, likely ticketed for Triple-A, as a super utility player and may be able sell fairly high on him with the Tigers one of the teams in the market for such a player.


East Notes: Cobb, Moncada, Mets

The Rays have announced that starting pitcher Alex Cobb‘s MRI has revealed that he has tendinitis in his right forearm. He will not be able to start Opening Day. Cobb’s injury is just the latest in a long string for the Rays rotation, which is also currently without Drew Smyly (shoulder), Alex Colome (pneumonia) and, of course Matt Moore (Tommy John surgery). Even before Cobb’s injury, the Rays had planned to consider minor moves to upgrade their starting pitching depth. Here’s more from the East divisions.

  • Red Sox GM Ben Cherington isn’t concerned about being fired if his expensive signing of Yoan Moncada doesn’t work out, Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe writes. “We understand that not everything we do is going to work out,” says Cherington. “But we feel good about the process and why we’re doing it.” As Abraham notes, the signing of the 19-year-old Moncada comes with plenty of upside, but it’s risky, too — the Red Sox have already made a series of high-profile investments (though not as high-profile or nearly as expensive as Moncada) in international players who haven’t worked out, like Jose Vinicio, Adalberto Ibarra, Juan Carlos Linares, Tzu-Wei Lin and Dalier Hinojosa.
  • The Mets didn’t anticipate Zack Wheeler‘s elbow issues would be so severe, so that wasn’t why they held onto Dillon Gee, Andy Martino of New York Daily News writes. They did, however, keep Noah Syndergaard in part because of general worries about the health of their starting pitchers, including not only Wheeler (who also had elbow discomfort last year) but also Bartolo Colon and Matt Harvey. Martino also explains why they didn’t trade Wheeler before the news that he would have to have Tommy John surgery, even though they were aware of his prior elbow trouble — they still like his upside and he’ll still be under team control when he returns.

Notes On Yoan Moncada

The Red Sox have been aware of newly signed Cuban infielder Yoan Moncada since 2010, when he played in a tournament in Mexico, Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald writes. Since then, Moncada has followed a mysterious path from Cuba to Guatemala and then to Florida, but GM Ben Cherington says the team isn’t overly concerned about that. “Our obligation is to say, ‘OK, here are the players that are available. Let’s scout them and figure out what this guy’s worth and if we should make an offer,'” says Cherington. “How they get to that place is not our job or responsibility, so we simply don’t spend a lot of time on it. We do background on the human being … but we understand there’s other things going on that we’re not involved with.” The Red Sox introduced Moncada to the press yesterday, but many questions about his life remain unanswered. Here are more notes on Moncada.

  • The details of Moncada’s journey remain unclear, but Ron Borges of the Herald speaks to former Indians and Red Sox star Luis Tiant about a somewhat similar journey he made more than 50 years ago. “I was in Cuba during the Bay of Pigs invasion,” says Tiant. “Just when I was supposed to go back to Mexico, the borders opened up for a month or so. I caught the last flight out. My father said go. I don’t know what would have happened if I hadn’t gotten out of Cuba.” The Indians purchased Tiant’s contract after that 1961 season, and he made it to the big leagues three years later. Meanwhile, however, he could not see his family for 14 years.
  • Moncada will likely start this season with Class A Greenville, writes Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. Moncada expects he could make the big leagues next season.

AL East Notes: Moncada, Santana, Hendriks

The Red Sox‘ recent signing of Yoan Moncada finds its roots in one of GM Ben Cherington’s first decisions on the job, as Tim Britton of the Providence Journal writes. By promoting Eddie Romero to director of international scouting and soliciting more international input from VP of player personnel Allard Baird, Cherington was preparing to explore new ways for the team to make wise investments in new talent. “There are fewer and fewer opportunities to gain advantages,” says Cherington. “A lot of things have been leveled out, so attention to [international] areas was definitely a reaction to that.” The piece is too long to fully describe here, so be sure to give it a read.

  • Moncada says he hopes to be in the big leagues in one year, he told reporters including Boston.com’s Steve Silva. But he seemingly acknowledged that goal was hardly a sure thing, or even his primary purpose. “I’m just looking forward to getting back on the field and playing baseball,” he said. “It’s been so long. … I want them to see me as a dedicated teammate and a good guy.”
  • Veteran Blue Jays lefty Johan Santana is still passionate about his craft, as Ken Fidlin of the Toronto Sun writes. Indeed, that’s the reason that he is still trying to come back after a series of setbacks. Soon to turn 36, Santana is still building up strength with short throwing sessions (in both time and distance). “When it’s time to move on I’ll move on but I still feel that I can do this,” says Santana. “I had a great career, a lot of ups and downs but I’ve always had a positive outlook, through good days and bad days.”
  • Fellow Blue Jays hurler Liam Hendriks is facing a different set of challenges, as MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm writes. Out of options and adjusting to life as a reliever, Hendriks says he hopes to crack the Toronto pen out of camp — not least of which to script a worthwhile follow-up to a 2014 season after which he was named the best Australian ballplayer.

AL East Notes: Moncada, Castillo, Tanaka, Estrada, Jays

In his latest at WEEI.com, Rob Bradford takes an excellent look at Yoan Moncada‘s journey from Cuba to Boston, chronicling his relationship with agent David Hastings along the way. Hastings, a Tampa-based CPA, was introduced to Moncada through a client and couldn’t pass up the opportunity to represent him, but he admits to being stunned at the level of work that went into it. Hastings recalls that his printer ran out of paper as he printed 300+ pages of rules and regulations for representing a player. “Looking back, I don’t know how I did it. It became a life,” Hastings tells Bradford. Moncada and friend Carlos Mesa (a 27-year-old outfielder who became Moncada’s mentor and was also signed by Boston) became part of the Hastings family, writes Bradford. Hastings’ wife, Jo, who was born in Cuba, formed a quick bond with the pair at an apartment they had previously had built for Hastings’ mother-in-law. Bradford includes plenty of quotes from Sox international scouting director Eddie Romero and the details of a last-minute push to increase their original offer of $25MM. Asked if they could up their offer to $30MM, GM Ben Cherington and Romero tried to track down owner John Henry, who was at the Daytona 500. When Henry’s wife got a hold of him, his response spoke volumes about the team’s top-to-bottom interest in Moncada: “Go to 31.” Another $500K was tacked on shortly after, writes Bradford, and the two sides had their deal. Still, Bradford notes that Hastings was seemingly more concerned with Moncada’s well-being early in the negotiation process, asking where he would live, where he would eat, and who would help him transition to his new life before even attempting to get the Sox to up their offer.

Moncada’s introductory press conference will be held at 11:30 ET today, but in the meantime, here are a few more notes more from the AL East…

  • Rusney Castillo may not be ready for Opening Day, writes MLB.com’s Ian Browne. Even if Castillo is healthy by that point, however, it’s not a guarantee that he’d make the Red Sox‘ 25-man roster, Browne notes. Mookie Betts has been excellent in camp thus far, and Hanley Ramirez and Shane Victorino are expected to man the outfield corners. Castillo’s injury status might make it more likely that both Allen Craig and Daniel Nava remain with the club as bench options, however. Manager John Farrell recently said the team fully expects Craig to remain on the roster, but the out-of-options Nava makes sense as a trade candidate on paper.
  • Yankees ace Masahiro Tanaka fired two perfect innings and struck out two in his spring debut yesterday, writes Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News. While individual spring starts rarely carry significant meaning, this was Tanaka’s first test of his elbow a season after slightly tearing his UCL. “We’re aware that things could crop up at any time, but it’s been very positive,” said pitching coach Larry Rothschild. “I think (the injury) hasn’t affected him because he hasn’t felt anything. He’s going at it like it’s normal. He’s just going to pitch.” Tanaka used all of his pitches, including his splitter, in the outing.
  • Marco Estrada tells John Lott of the National Post that his preference is to pitch out of the Blue Jays‘ rotation, but he’s happy to work in relief as long as the team is winning games. While Estrada’s ERA as a starter and ERA as a reliever last season were separated by nearly two full runs, Estrada doesn’t feel that indicates that he’s better deployed as a reliever; rather, he maintains that he corrected some mechanical flaws shortly after his move to the bullpen and feels that he’d have seen a similar turnaround even in the Brewers’ rotation. Estrada is in the mix for two open rotation spots, along with top prospects Aaron Sanchez and Daniel Norris, following the loss of Marcus Stroman to a torn ACL.
  • Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet tweets that if the Blue Jays go with Brett Cecil as their closer, then manager John Gibbons would like to have a third lefty in his ‘pen in addition to Cecil and setup man Aaron Loup. Lefty options on the 40-man roster include Jayson Aquino, Scott Barnes, Colt HynesRob Rasmussen and Norris. Non-roster lefties in camp include Jeff Francis, Andrew Albers and Johan Santana, though Santana isn’t expected to be healthy by Opening Day.

Red Sox Sign Yoan Moncada

The Red Sox have officially signed heralded Cuban infielder Yoan Moncada to a minor league contract, the team announced.  Terms of the deal weren’t announced, though Moncada reportedly received a $31.5MM signing bonus according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post (Twitter links).

Because Boston had already exceeded its bonus pool for the 2014-15 international signing period, the team will pay a full 100 percent tax on Moncada’s bonus, bringing the total cost for his services to $63MM.  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.

MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez was the first to report Moncada’s deal with Boston (via Twitter).

International Notes: Yoon, Moncada, Draft, Venezuela

We learned this morning that Suk-min Yoon and the Orioles appear to be in the process of severing their relationship, with Yoon apparently headed back to his native Korea. Yoon is still formally required to report to the Orioles on Friday, a club official tells Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun. His contract will not be voided if he does not show, says Encina. Instead, Yoon would be placed on the restricted list and he would not be paid while so designated. O’s skipper Buck Showalter commented briefly on the situation, as Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com tweets, saying: “He’s going to be fine. We wish him well.”

Here are some more international notes:

  • The Red Sox are still awaiting final results of drug testing on Cuban prospect Yoan Moncada before making his deal official, Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com reports. That is expected to occur in short order, with Moncada set to report to minor league camp thereafter.
  • J.J. Cooper of Baseball America explores the impact of the Moncada signing on the push for an international draft in a highly recommended piece. Unlike prior major Cuban signings, which included competition from a broad number of clubs, the relatively new rules applicable to Moncada — namely, a virtual 100% tax on international bonus pool overages — meant that only a few, deep-pocket teams could realistically compete. The general system is favorable for Cuban players seeking big bonuses, but its function has added impetus to the idea of a “single method of entry,” as new commissioner Rob Manfred recently phrased it. Logistical impediments clearly remain, but one lower-revenue club official tells Cooper that an international draft “has to happen” to correct the imbalance.
  • Broader political matters can easily impact international efforts, of course, as seen recently with the Cuban market. That appears to be the case in Venezuela, where new visa rules will complicate scouting efforts, as Ben Badler of Baseball America writes. The need for a visa to enter the country will create logistical hurdles for operations, says Badler, who notes that some Venezuelan trainers had already begun moving players to the Dominican Republic to increase their visibility.
  • Indeed, the general socio-political and economic climate in Venezuela will lead the Mariners to transfer their operations there to the Dominican, according to a report from Ignacio Serrano of El Emergente (Spanish language link; h/t Jon Morosi of FOX Sports, via Twitter). Seattle is declining comment on the matter, Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune tweets. The overall situation is creating concern of a broader exodus, though Phillies assistant GM Benny Looper tells Morosi (Twitter link) that “it’s business as usual for the Phillies in Venezuela.”