By now, everyone who follows baseball’s hot stove season, knows the name Yoan Moncada. The 19-year old Cuban defector, who has been termed by some to be a “franchise-changing” type of player. The shortstop has played two seasons of professional baseball, both in Cuba, posting a career average of .277. It wouldn’t be the 2014-15 off-season if A.J. Preller and the San Diego Padres weren’t smack dab in the middle of pursuing the young infielder. Now that the James Shields Sweepstakes is over, all of San Diego’s focus has turned to Moncada, who has been cleared by the U.S. Government and MLB to sign with whichever team he chooses.
Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com reported yesterday, that Moncada’s representation, has planned on more individual workouts for teams over the next two weeks, with a decision hopefully being made on whom the young Cuban will sign with by February 23rd. Crasnick also reported that Moncada could receive between $30-$50 million for his initial contract to come to the U.S. to play. For some teams in pursuit, such as the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, any contract they signed Moncada to, could cost them a dollar-for-dollar tax penalty…meaning a maximum contract would cost both teams close to $100 million dollars in salary and penalties. So is he worth it?
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David Hastings, Moncada’s legal representation, commented on what he thinks the follow-up workouts will prove with his client:
"“If a team is going to put this much money on the table, I can’t imagine they can see the kid one time and say, ‘He’s worth millions of dollars’…So they might want to come back and take a look at a second little aspect [of his game]. Sometimes they bring different personnel. Somebody wasn’t available for the first workout, so they want that person to see him and evaluate him as well.I don’t have any more plans [for workouts] after next week. I’m looking at around the 23rd of this month to have all the input we need to make a decision on where he’ll start — and hopefully end — his professional career.”"
According to Crasnick, the Padres are among a dozen or so teams that have worked out Moncada individually, and still consider themselves big players to sign him. Teams have worked the infielder out at second base, shortstop, third base, and even a little bit in the outfield. Moncada recently did an interview with a Spanish-speaking outlet of MLB.com and had this to say about his immediate future:
"“My goal is to sign with a team soon, start training with them and make it to the major leagues as fast as I can with whichever team that might be,” he said. “I know I’m going to do the best I can for as long as I can in this sport.”"
Per Hastings, Moncada has one firm contract offer already on the table, but choice not to state who the team was during Crasnick’s interview. Could that team be the San Diego Padres? We know by now, when A.J. Preller and Co. want something, they generally go right after it. Moncada could end up being the final piece of Preller’s complete overhaul of the Padres roster, and within a couple of years, Moncada could be the face of the franchise if his potential meets the reality of MLB super stardom.
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