JAN. 14: Dodgers GM Farhan Zaidi spoke with Jim Bowden on MLB Network Radio’s Inside Pitch (via MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick) about Moncada and candidly declared his club’s interest in the Cuban star:
“Moncada, we’ve scouted extensively. We have the checkbook. Young elite talent in baseball is the most valuable asset to have. To the extent that our evaluation of him matches or exceeds where the market goes, we’ll definitely be players for him.”
Zaidi continued, explaining that in this type of situation the Dodgers will evaluate Moncada as a talent and Moncada as a person. The GM noted that with an investment of this size, no stone can be left unturned.
JAN. 13: To this point, the Yankees and Red Sox have been the teams most commonly connected to 19-year-old Cuban phenom Yoan Moncada, but MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez adds the Dodgers to the mix of clubs expected to make a serious run (Twitter link). According to Sanchez, the Dodgers “aggressively” pursued right-hander Yoan Lopez, and, having missed out on Lopez to the division-rival D-Backs, will now shift their focus to Moncada. Sanchez adds that a private workout for the Dodgers can be expected.
Fangraphs’ Kiley McDaniel has called the Yankees and Red Sox the “heavy favorites” to sign Moncada, but the Dodgers certainly possess the financial wherewithal to go toe-to-toe with both of those clubs in terms of spending. Los Angeles has invested heavily in Cuban players over the past 18 months, spending a combined $57MM on Alex Guerrero and Erisbel Arruebarrena. While those acquisitions were made under different management — Andrew Friedman, Farhan Zaidi and Josh Byrnes were tasked with leading a revamped baseball operations department this winter — the signings do show that ownership is willing to devote significant resources to the international market.
Moncada, of course, is expected to absolutely shatter Lopez’s record-setting bonus of $8.25MM; estimates on his signing bonus have ranged from $30-40MM. And, because clubs are required to pay a 100 percent tax for any spending that exceeds their assigned international bonus pools, the total outlay for Moncada could approach $80MM.
A switch-hitting infielder said to have four plus tools — hit, power, arm and speed — Moncada has been labeled by Baseball America’s Ben Badler as a potential franchise player. For the time being, however, Moncada cannot sign with any club, as he is still awaiting clearance from the United States Office of Foreign Assets Control, and there’s no word on a timeline for his approval.