The best international prospect in baseball is reportedly available to join any team his heart/bank account wishes. The young Cuban has had a wild ride, including being given a Cuban passport and the lifting of the US embargo on his island nation. He's represented by a CPA (and first time baseball agent) from St. Petersburg, which adds to the Rays lore in this story, but in a bidding war the Rays won't stand a chance.
Breaking: Yoan Moncada is a free agent after MLB changes its rules regarding Cuban players. Story with details soon on Yahoo Sports.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) February 3, 2015
Sources: Yoan Moncada is free to sign with an MLB team now. MLB just sent a memo to teams outlining the conditions.— Kiley McDaniel (@kileymcd) February 3, 2015
Here's a brief recap on our journey with Moncada:
In order to land [a top international prospect], the Rays spent nearly $3 million on Adrian Rondon, which exceeded the 15% cap above their assigned bonus pool this period.
In other words, the Rays are already in the same group with the Yankees, Red Sox and Angels: for the next two years, beginning June 16, 2015, these four teams will not be allowed to sign an international players for more than $300,000. That restriction, which may scare off many other clubs from signing Moncada for a huge deal, is already in place.
This too could play to the Rays' advantage, even if it means entering a bidding war with three of the richest teams in baseball. You can't be penalized twice in the same period.
Should future all-star Yoan Moncada be cleared to sign by the Office of Foreign Assets Control before June 15, 2015, and if the new front office believes the hype, you never know whether Stu Sternberg and Co. might break out the checkbook or score a behind-the-scenes deal.
There are few known commodities in minor league baseball and amateur scouting, but Yoan Moncada just might be one of them.
"...the Rays can't compete with other teams for star talent on the major league free agent market, and even the next tier is often off limits to them. Moncada represents an opportunity for them to acquire a potential franchise player without having to pay the market rate for an established major league free agent. With a farm system that used to be a powerhouse but has thinned significantly in recent years, Moncada is a player the Rays have to seriously consider."
If the Rays wanted to continue to spend internationally, they must do so now; however, Moncada might very well be inaccessible for the Rays, as Silverman reckoned that " given [our] financial situation, I wouldn't expect us to be the winners of an auction."
Indeed, Moncada is projected to receive an astonishing signing bonus which could be anywhere between 30 and 40 million dollars according to people who have sources, GMs and other executives. Such an amount would automatically be higher than any team bonus pool, forcing the buyer to pay a 100% luxury tax on Moncada's bonus. With these financial considerations in mind, it is unfortunately not very hard to understand Silverman's state of mind regarding Yoan Moncada.
As a matter of fact, Matt Silverman pointed out that all of the MLB structures, " whether it is the draft or international... put the Rays at a disadvantage ", explaining that because of the team' recent success in the past few years, they've had a hard time trying to " restock" while using lower draft picks and a less international money. While some power houses have bottomed out (Boston, Chicago), the Rays have done everything they can to stay competitive for nearly a decade. Silverman even advocated for a global system change to implement a " market component " so that smaller market teams could still compete.
[Full interview with GM Matt Silverman below]
"The Rays most likely can't afford to sign Cuban infielder Yoan Moncada, but they took [a look] at him Wednesday during a private workout at the Trop anyway. Moncada showed impressive power in front of a group of team officials, inlcluding baseball operations president Matt Silverman."
And now here we are. Moncada is a free agent, and the Rays will be up against the big guns of the Yankees, Red Sox and Angels as people who must spend now, or not do so for the next two years. Then there's the other big guns, like the Dodgers, or anyone else. This is the Rays we're talking about, but let's all hold our breath until he signs.