The reason for the sudden change was that it was determined the specific license from the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assest Control (OFAC) was no longer needed. According to a memo sent out by Major League Baseball today, the old license will now be replaced by a general license and a sworn statement from the player that they will permanently reside outside of Cuba and has no intent to return to Cuba. Once a player fulfills these two requirements they will be in compliance with Section 515.05 of Cuban Assets Control Regulations and will be free to sign with any team.
In October, Moncada established his residency in Guatemala and according to his agent, David Hastings has the documentation to meet the new general license requirements he now meets the aforementioned requirements and is a free agent. As reported by Sanchez, Hasting’s released the following statement in regards to hearing his player is now free to sign:
"“I’m glad this part of the process is clear and we can move forward to finalizing a contract to secure Yoan’s promising future in Major League Baseball.”"
Now that Moncada is free to sign expect teams to start clamoring for his services, even though as Jesse Sanchez reports he has private workouts scheduled through the middle of February.
The team who signs Moncada will definitely have a lot to think about because he is under 23 years old and did not play in a professional league for at least five seasons, thus falling under the MLB’s international signing guidelines. With price tag that Moncada is expected to demand the team that signs him will exceed their allotted money by more than 15 percent causing the team to be penalized under the international signing guidelines. The penalty for going over the maximum range is 100 % tax on their pool overages and prohibits the team from signing any pool eligible players for more than $300,000 for the next two signing periods.
Even with the penalty expect a lot of teams to get in on the bidding, since many scouts consider the 19 year old a franchise changing player. Since Moncada has already worked out for the Yankees, Red Sox Dodgers, Padres, Giants, Rangers, Rays, Tigers and Brewers, you can guess that they will be involved.
While this is great news for Moncada, I would argue it isn’t necessarily great for the Padres. Now that he is a free agent the Yankees, Rays, Red Sox, D-backs and Angels can all bid for his services. Whereas if the bureaucracy would have continued into the next signing period the aforementioned teams would not have been able to sign him because they would be in the penalty. This means there are more teams with deep pockets that the Padres have to bid against, and hurting their chances to sign the phenom.
However, even against the odds I hope the Padres go all in on Moncada. As an owner imagine if Bryce Harper, Stephan Strasburg or Mike Trout would have hit the open market instead of being placed in the draft, wouldn’t you pay almost any sum to get a player that marketable on your team. I would argue that Moncada should even be more tantalizing to the Padres due to his Spanish speaking roots. A young Spanish star could really help them reach the Mexican market right across the border.
Other than Moncada, this change in regulation helps all other players defecting from Cuba with dreams to play in the Major Leagues. I would expect that infielders Andy Ibanez and Hector Olivera will follow suit. The Padres have long been a favorite to sign the Cuban standout Olivera, and this could be the first step towards seeing him in a Padres uniform, but that is purely speculation at this point.
Regardless of which team he signs for all eyes will be on Moncada as the next few weeks unfold and these regulation changes will affect Cuban players for years to come.
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