Cuban super prospect Yoan Moncada agrees to sign with Red Sox

MLB columnist
Yahoo Sports

TAMPA, Fla. – Cuban prospect Yoan Moncada agreed to sign with the Boston Red Sox for a $31.5 million bonus Monday, smashing records and delivering one of the most talented young players in the world to a franchise already teeming with them.

Yoan Moncada, 19, is a switch-hitting infielder. (MLB.com)
Yoan Moncada, 19, is a switch-hitting infielder. (MLB.com)

A dark horse lurking behind the more publicly favored New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers, the Red Sox landed Moncada despite having players tied to his potential positions for the next half-decade. A switch-hitting 19-year-old who can play second or third base, Moncada is a brutishly athletic five-tool player, a ballplayer masquerading in a linebacker’s body, mature enough that one team in the bidding considered jumping him straight to the major leagues.

Instead, Moncada is expected to start out in the lower minors, where he can remember what it’s like to play baseball after a harrowing 14-month journey to this point. Moncada is believed to be among the first players to leave Cuba legally, and he sat in limbo in Guatemala for months awaiting approval from the government to seek employment in the United States.

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Once he received it, he went on a whirlwind tour that whittled the interested teams down to five: the Red Sox, Yankees, Dodgers, San Diego Padres and Milwaukee Brewers. Ultimately, he settled on Boston, giving the organization another top-flight prospect and taking advantage of its significant wealth.

It’ll cost, too: The $31.5 million-plus payment Boston will give Moncada once he passes a physical will be double for the Red Sox, as they pay a dollar-for-dollar tax to Major League Baseball for exceeding their international amateur bonus pool. MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez first reported the signing.

In addition, Moncada will head into the standard salary scale once he arrives in the major leagues: three seasons near the league minimum, then three in arbitration. Should he be the superstar some expect, the total outlay for his first six seasons could exceed $100 million.

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Certainly Moncada has the ability. Scouts fawned over him after a breakout performance at an international tournament in Rotterdam, Netherlands, flocked to his showcase in Guatemala and were almost unanimous that his individual workouts were as impressive. The only question now is how long until he arrives and adds to the wave of Cuban ballplayers in the major leagues.

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