Cuban star Yoan Moncada is set to be an MLB free agent after the rule changes overhauled by the MLB. Moncada is a 19 year old slugger originally from Guatemala who is a switch-hitter with speed, while playing a middle infielder role during his career. Players who present sworn affidavits to Major League Baseball stating they are residents of another country, have no intention of returning to Cuba and are not Cuban government officials can sign with major league teams immediately, per reports by Yahoo Sports. MLB distributed a memo to teams Tuesday afternoon outlining the changes. Previously, the league required a specific unblocking license from the Office of Foreign Assets Control. Recent changes in the government’s policy regarding Cuba prompted OFAC to no longer issue specific licenses in cases where the person fulfilled the criteria for a general unblocking license; such as permanent residency in a third country.
Yet how good is Moncada?
Moncada debuted with Cienfuegos in Serie Nacional in 2012-13 as a 17-year-old, playing alongside 2014 American League Rookie of the Year Jose Abreu. The switch-hitter enjoyed a strong rookie season, batting .283/.414/.348 in 172 plate appearances to go along with 13 steals. The 2013-14 season was Moncada’s last in Serie Nacional, and he went out on a high note after batting .273/.365/.406 in 195 plate appearances.
Who Are The Front Runners?
The biggest players appear to be the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees and the Los Angles Dodgers. Buster Olney reports the Dodgers "have become the strong favorite to land the young phenom." Moncada will most likely sign the same type of contract as Puig, Cespedes, Abreu and Castillo for $35-$40 million. The Red Sox and Yankees face a bit of a time crunch. Both clubs exceeded the financial limits on international signings last year and will be prohibited from signing any prospect for more than $300,000 over the next two signing periods. Thus meaning until June 15, the Sox and Yankees are eligible to sign any player with the only penalty being a 100 percent tax. To make this more clear if the Yankees signed Moncada for $50 million they'd also have to pay the MLB $50 million as well
Is Moncada Worth it?
The 6'0 foot 210 prospect certainly does seem to be worth the price point. Viewing talents that have come out of Cuba over the past few seasons we have seen these players have been well worth the risk. Yet Moncada is a bit different. He's 5 years younger then the previous players who have signed into the big leagues. He does not have the experience that some of the big name guys like Cespedes have. Would that make him less effective? A year or two in Triple A may do him justice but at the price point there is to sign him clubs may want him up and producing right away if he proves to be Major League ready. New commissioner Rob Manfred has said one of his priorities would be to establish an international draft, a process that will equalize the distribution of talent. For high-revenue teams such as the Sox, Yankees, and Dodgers, Moncada may represent one of the final opportunities to flex their financial muscles in the amateur market.
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Jake Wesley is now the only writer for MLB_NL_AL.com all of these articles are ether based on facts and pieces of his opinion.