Everything You Need to Know About Yoan Moncada

As I reported on twitter moments ago, MLB sent a memo to clubs detailing the new process for Cuban players to go from leaving the country to signing with an MLB team. The short version is that super prospect Yoan Moncada is eligible to sign now, after a maddening long delay.

For those new to this topic or if you just want a refresher, here’s a recap of my coverage of this Moncada saga from the start:

October 3, 2014: Moncada is confirmed out of Cuba, but no one knows where he is.  We assume his whereabouts will become clear soon as he’s the most hyped prospect to leave the island in years. Here I first quote the common “teenage Puig that can play the infield and switch hit” comp and break down all the implications about who can sign him, who is likely to pony up the big bucks, game theory implications and more.

November 13, 2014: The day after Moncada’s heavily-attended open workout in Guatemala, I break down what scouts thought of his performance at the event and the hilarious way that super agent Scott Boras entered the equation.  The most interesting additional information here is that we learn the Moncada’s agent is a CPA from St. Petersburg, Florida that has never negotiated a baseball contract before and that Moncada appears to be the first Cuban ballplayer that’s ever been allowed to legally leave the country.

November 15, 2014: MLB declares Moncada a free agent. This means that once Moncada is unblocked by the Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC), teams can sign him. OFAC is essentially in place to confirm Moncada’s identity and paperwork and confirm he isn’t sending money back to a communist government.

November 19, 2014: One week later, I find even more content from this story as I found the answer to a common question about Moncada’s situation. You can read in more depth about this at the linked stories, but to sign Moncada, the rules dictate that teams pay essentially a dollar-for-dollar tax to MLB on the signing bonus they give him. He can’t sign a big league deal, so all the money has to be lump sum and upfront, with MLB getting half of what he gets, which should be about $40 million. The question is what will MLB do with this money? The short answer is that the CBA says MLB will use the money to do something that nearly everyone in the industry thinks is bad for international baseball.

One more interesting element from this story is that teams that have high-dollar verbal deals to sign 16-year-olds on July 2nd (the first day they’re eligible to sign) would have to back out of those deals to sign Moncada. It would be considered collateral damage, but would hurt a team’s reputation with in the July 2nd market, where verbal deals are done months in advance for almost every top player.

December 2, 2014: Moncada arrives in Florida to stay with his agent and train for private workouts with MLB teams. He is still awaiting unblocking from OFAC.

December 17, 2014: President Obama announces plans to soften sanctions against Cuba. Speculation runs wild about what this could mean for baseball, but there is no immediate, baseball-specific news.

January 26, 2015: OFAC posted updated rules on their website in mid-January and these rules appear to say that the specific license that Moncada is still waiting to receive from OFAC isn’t necessary to sign. The new rules say that the general license, which Moncada reached the requirements for months ago, is all he needs to be unblocked and sign with an MLB team.

January 30, 2015: After a week of PR statements from OFAC and MLB that essentially point the finger at each other for dragging out the process, OFAC tells Moncada’s agent that they won’t give him a specific license. Earlier OFAC statements said they’d consider giving a specific license on a case-by-case basis, so this now puts the onus squarely on MLB as the only party holding up free agency for Moncada and two other notable Cuban players also stuck in limbo.

January 21, 2015: MLB sends a memo to the teams acknowledging this statement from OFAC. The three-sentence memo tells teams that MLB “hope(s) to receive guidance by early next week” from the U.S. government on what the new MLB policy should be regarding Cubans and that MLB teams are not to sign Cuban players until MLB gives them the go-ahead.

– February 3, 2015 (today):  I tweeted to remind readers that we are now in the “early next week” time that MLB targeted for clarity, amidst some (unreported) rumors that the rules changes may come later in the day. Then, about 90 minutes later, those changes are sent to MLB teams in a memo, first reported to exist by Yahoo’s Jeff Passan. I was first to report the details of the memo.

So, here we are after four months of speculation and reporting and some nonsense for good measure. In the last section of my most recent article on the topic, I outline the stakes for fans hoping their team signs Moncada. The heavy favorites are the Yankees, Red Sox and Dodgers, with my best estimation that the price will be around $40 million on the bonus and another roughly $40 million going to MLB as a penalty, along with a two-year ban on international signings over $300,000. This ban doesn’t include Japanese/Korean professional players or Cubans over the age of 23 with five or more years of pro experience, with recent players like this including Yasmany Tomas, Jose Abreu and Rusney Castillo. Moncada has had private workout for other clubs, including the Rays, Padres, Rangers, Tigers and Giants, but these clubs have publicly said they’re almost certain they won’t be able to afford where Moncada’s price tag likely ends up.

The Rangers and Cubs are the only two teams that can’t sign Moncada right now, because they’re finishing up their penalty year for going over their international pool last year (the penalty recently was changed to two years, but Texas and Chicago broke it when the penalty was only one year). Sources indicate both teams are trying to convince Moncada to wait until July 2nd (when sanctions on both clubs will end) to sign, but it’s extremely unlikely that Moncada will wait that long and take the Red Sox and Yankees out of the bidding, as Boston and New York start their two-year penalties on July 2nd for going over this year’s pool. This dynamic was a big reason why the ongoing delay of Moncada’s unblocking was so interesting, as it increased the odds of certain big market teams being knocked out of or entering the market.

Moncada, 19, likely spends 1-2 years in the minors before settling in the big leagues at either second base, third base or center field, with the offensive upside of Yasiel Puig. For those wondering where Moncada would land on a top 100 prospects list, he’d be somewhere from 5-12 for me, with comparable talent to guys like Carlos Correa and Corey Seager, but with far less proven as Moncada hasn’t played in a game for a long time. That said, Moncada was a standout performer in nearly all of his international tournaments before leaving Cuba, so his hitting tools are expected to lead to big numbers.  If you need more detail than that, I’d suggest checking out the first couple articles I wrote that go into much more detail about the rules around his contract and my scouting report.

I haven’t had it confirmed, but it appears that Cuban second baseman Andy Ibanez is eligible to sign now, as his situation mirrors Moncada’s in every important way (details on Ibanez, who is subject to bonus pools like Moncada) and 2) Cuban second baseman Hector Olivera will be a free agent once MLB clears him, which should be soon (details on Olivera, who isn’t subject to pools, like Tomas, Abreu and Castillo).



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Kiley McDaniel has worked in the scouting departments of the New York Yankees, Baltimore Orioles and Pittsburgh Pirates and has written for ESPN, among other outlets. Follow him on twitter for real-time thoughts on the players he’s seeing and hacky attempts at humor.


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Gabes
Guest
Gabes
1 year 3 months ago

Kiley McDaniel is LEGIT!

Pale Hose
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Pale Hose
1 year 3 months ago

But we still don’t know if Moncada is legit.

Ballfan
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Ballfan
1 year 3 months ago

so long as he has heard of MC Hammer, we should be able to rest easy

2
Guest
2
1 year 3 months ago

I quit.

Avattoir
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Avattoir
1 year 3 months ago

No – wait: SIT!

Phillies113
Member
Member
1 year 3 months ago

Interesting. So a team that signs Yoan Moncada could theoretically also sign Ken Maeda next year if he were to be posted? That’s handy.

…Aw, shoot, I can’t resist: What are the chances of the Phillies signing Moncada? It’s slim to none, isn’t it?

Eric Longenhagen
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Eric Longenhagen
1 year 3 months ago

They don’t seem to think highly enough of him to spend the money he’s going to command. They like him, they just don’t $80mil like him.

I don't care what anyone
Guest
I don't care what anyone
1 year 3 months ago

Cue the FELONY FRAUD guy.

noseeum
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noseeum
1 year 3 months ago

Haha. Nice call, @I don’t care what anyone says!

Free_AEC
Guest
1 year 3 months ago

34 YEARS

JIM THOME and CLIFF LEE

That’s it for this ownership group.

Number of Japanese or Korean professional players signed out of their countries?

ZERO

Number of times the Phillies have paid the largest signing bonus during a July 2nd signing period?

ZERO

Add up the Phillies five highest paid signing bonuses and you aren’t sniffing the five million Texas paid Nomar Mazara to sign.

The Phillies have NEVER SPENT on the open markets.

NEVER.

The Phillies BOYCOTT the open markets and fight a war on Scott Boras.

Number of Scott Boras clients signed by the Phillies?

ZERO
_

Google: John Powers Middleton Weekly Online

Where did the $6 BILLION Comcast gave John Middleton to buy players go?
_

BMarkham
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BMarkham
1 year 3 months ago

Let the bidding begin!

I really want to see the Cardinals sign him. Probably not going to happen though. Dodgers seem like the best fit, as they have Uribe, Rollins, and Kendrick on expiring deals. Adding him with Seager makes for an interesting future infield.

Seems like Kiley is convinced he can’t hack it at SS?

Figwhip
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Figwhip
1 year 3 months ago

As an exercise, how many teams can you say WOULD NOT BENEFIT from an elite 3B, 2B, or CF in 2 years? I think that’s most of them. Maybe not the Cubs and Red Sox. I guess my question is: how good does Moncada need to be prior to free agency to justify the 80M bonus+penalty? That’s a lot of splash, but a) if this wouldn’t push you over the luxury tax line, and b) your team is arguably in the 85+ projected wins category for 1-2years from now, you should AT LEAST make this bid, right?

Willie
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Willie
1 year 3 months ago

Do you think the Yankees can sign both Moncada and Ibanez

Mr Punch
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Mr Punch
1 year 3 months ago

How much less would Moncada be paid if he were an American?

Spencer Jones
Member
Member
Spencer Jones
1 year 3 months ago

With the new slotting system even a 1-1 Draft Pick is looking at 6 or 7 million, far off from the 40 Moncada might see.

mattsd
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mattsd
1 year 3 months ago

And remember that the $40 million is nowhere near a reflection of what he is worth. The luxury tax means that if Moncada has market value of $80 million, he gets to keep half of that and the owners pocket the rest.

MLB’s anticompetitive treatment of amateur players is hilariously transparent and would be criminal in any other industry.

Joe Brady
Guest
1 year 3 months ago

Closed union shops are monopolistic in nature, but not illegal in most states.

mattsd
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mattsd
1 year 3 months ago

The amateur players aren’t unionized, nor will they be after signing. The unionization isn’t the issue, though.

The issue here is antitrust. The teams are allocating markets (draft), fixing prices (slotting), and engaging in group boycott. None of this is legal without an exemption founded upon nothing.

oh Hal
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oh Hal
1 year 3 months ago

C’mon, next you’re going to tell me that MLB is a monopoly without oversight no less.

Jonathan Sher
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Jonathan Sher
1 year 3 months ago

Courts have upheld an antitrust exemption for MLB for a century, most recently just a few weeks ago, when a court dismissed an anti-trust challenge by interests in San Jose and Oakland who want to move the team.

So under the state of the law as it has existed for 100 years, MLB is exempt. Just because you or I might disagree doesn’t remove a century of legal foundation.

David
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David
1 year 3 months ago

He’s not arguing that the antitrust exemption is the law of the land. He’s saying it would be illegal “in any other industry,” and that the current exemption (while legal) is of dubious origin.

Anon21
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Anon21
1 year 3 months ago

Kiley stated above that he can’t sign a big league deal. Why not? And does that mean that he’ll be subject to the normal six years of big league time to reach free agency rule, or could he negotiate a shorter contract or an opt-out?

Alice Cooper
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Alice Cooper
1 year 3 months ago

Hard for me to wrap my head around these numbers for an unproven player. Unbelievable.

Matt
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Matt
1 year 3 months ago

Question for you Kiley:

Let’s go with your numbers and say the total cost to sign Moncada is $80 million. Is this an overpay for a prospect who is, as you assert, maybe *only* 5th or 6th best?

And when you factor in the 2 year penalty on international signings over $300K that the winning team faces, what’s your take on the risk vs reward to this type of contract from a team’s perspective?

schlomsd
Member
schlomsd
1 year 3 months ago

Basically he has to reach about 15 WAR his first six seasons for this to be worth it right? Figuring the $80m plus the $10-$15m you end up paying him those years. So I guess if a pretty high percentage of Top 15 Prospects reach that level it’s a worthwhile gamble.

Anthony
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Anthony
1 year 3 months ago

You’re paying more than 15 MM for him through arbitration if he works out. I’d say comfortably around 20 MM+

Cousin Ed
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Cousin Ed
1 year 3 months ago

My numbers show 11.92 WAR to break even.

David
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David
1 year 3 months ago

It’s not a linear line for break even points because he’ll be eligible for arbitration in years 4-6 (or more likely, 3-7). So if he has a massive season in year 3, his year 4 salary will spike significantly (and Y5 and Y6 will go up from there).
Also, if he’s anything like the player the signing team is paying him to be, his arb years will cost them multiples of the $10-15M thrown out above.

Also, trying to project a $/WAR number for two years beyond the end of the current national TV and radio contracts is utterly pointless at this point.

anon
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anon
1 year 3 months ago

I had 11.87. Show your work?

siljgd
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siljgd
1 year 3 months ago

Why does MLB permit bidding like this? If they can impose penalties on those who go over a certain line, couldn’t they just as easily simply prohibit teams from spending more than $X on amateur FAs? (With other restrictions to prohibit “marketing agreements” and the like.) If he was limited to making, say, $1m, what would Moncada do, go back to Cuba? Maybe he signs in Japan, but if so, so what (from MLB’s perspective)? NPB isn’t going to steal any business from MLB, and as long as MLB isn’t competing with Japan, and has a monopoly in the US, they have no reason to try to put the best product possible on the field. Since they can stop it, permitting MLB teams to bid on amateur FA just seems like a good way to throw money away.

My two cents
Guest
My two cents
1 year 3 months ago

Seeing as it will end up being some billionaire-level old dude “throwing away” the money, and this 19 year old kid is about to make enough money to guarantee his grand-kids’ college funds, I don’t see this as a bad thing at all.

Bpdelia
Guest
Bpdelia
1 year 3 months ago

Seriously. They don’t need to put the best product on the field? Transcendent talent is good for the game. MLB competes not against other baseball they compete against other ENTERTAINMENT. It has to be a more exciting and compelling product than the NBA, NHL, NFL, NASCAR (lol just kidding) and the latest craptacular hollywood explosion fest.

Trying to save money by losing out on the best possible talent in your industry is taking your market for granted and a good way to become irrelevant really fast.

And there are examples of exactly that happening in major league sports. The NBA went through a 2 periods of talent being Lys compelling and birth l both periods led to boring games, less grab attention and plummeting revenues. Same with the NHL who coming out of the 80s looked poised to take off too the greatest heights of its history only to see a leveling off talent and a switch to a less high offense era which wiped out 2 decades of steady growth.

Your proposal is stunningly short sighted and would be a disaster.

Allow business to bid for talent like every other industry in the entertainment sector and prices will stabilize at the point where profits are maximized.

And this is coming from a dude who has had a subscription to mother Jones and the Atlantic monthly for a couple of decades.

And, of course, cry me a river for poor poor rich guys losing a tummy percentage of their revenue to pay for the type of talent that makes the whole enterprise even possible.

noseeum
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noseeum
1 year 3 months ago

I’ll never understand fans who complain about how much players make.

C’mon Yankees!!! Get this deal done!!!!

munchtime
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munchtime
1 year 3 months ago

If the money will be the same low amount no matter where he plays, why would he not go to a major media market with bountiful endorsement opportunities?

Also, arbitrarily limiting a player’s salary is un-American unless the prospect actually is American.

Jake
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Jake
1 year 3 months ago

What I don’t understand is why a team wouldn’t just sign him to a $2-$3 million bonus and then pay him whatever he’d actually want as his minor league salary, which MLB has no jurisdiction over. Are there any rules that would actually prevent a team from doing this?

*BG*
Guest
*BG*
1 year 3 months ago

Yes, whole payment has to be at once. Come on, you know MLB is going to make sure they’re going to get full freight.

anon
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anon
1 year 3 months ago

You actually aren’t answering the question. I’ve asked this as well and no one seems to have an answer… Would be interesting if someone from FG wrote about this.

Free_AEC
Guest
1 year 3 months ago

Your question assumes that MLB is 30 separate businesses.

Google: Collusion MLB

Read the wiki
_

anon
Guest
anon
1 year 3 months ago

I can’t find any. I’d love to hear from someone who knows.

Bomok
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Bomok
1 year 3 months ago

a couple of questions.
1) Can’t Moncada just take all offers now, and if the Cubs or Rangers are at the top of that bidding, he can just wait? No reason to blindly wait for them.
2) If he receives 40M (team pays 80M), then that’s for only 3 years. Then Moncada still qualifies for arbitration, and if he becomes the star that everyone expects him to be, he should receive atleast 30M in arbitration. this would put his contract at 6/110M. that’s not much of a potential discount, compared to the risk of losing the whole 80M. so, why would teams do that, instead of just signing Hanley Ramirez for 5/110M (or /88M)? It seems to me that the draft pick doesn’t matter because teams will be surrendering the next 2 signing periods to do this.

noseeum
Guest
noseeum
1 year 3 months ago

1. Sure, he can do that, but things change. He can’t officially sign until July 2nd. What if he gets hurt between now and then? He’s got nothing but a wink and a nod from either the Cubs or the Rangers while he can have cold hard cash from other teams. Too much risk to wait on people he owes nothing to. Plus, the sooner he starts playing, the sooner he’s in the majors. Why miss half a season when the deal he gets from the Cubs or Rangers would likely be no better than what he gets from the Yankees, Sox, or Dodgers?

2. This $80 million does not count against the luxury tax. For Dodgers, Yankees, and Sox, that’s a big deal. Once Moncada is in the majors he’ll make close to the league minimum for the first three years, and that’s how much he’ll contribute to the luxury tax.

anon
Guest
anon
1 year 3 months ago

How much production do you expect from 19-22 or 20-23 year old?

Bomok
Guest
Bomok
1 year 3 months ago

Also, it says that the player can’t have plans to return to Cuba, but Moncada has a full VISA to go back, doesn’t he? please explain.

noseeum
Guest
noseeum
1 year 3 months ago

I would think that means return to be a resident. If travel bans are lifted for Americans, I can’t imagine a Cuban with a visa would be more restricted than the rest of us. I don’t know the text of the affidavit though, so I’m just guessing.

Joe
Guest
Joe
1 year 3 months ago

It wasn’t everything I needed to know. I want to know how good he is also.

Shingo's Cheeseburgers
Member
Shingo's Cheeseburgers
1 year 3 months ago

The White Sox have a history of attracting Cuban talent, don’t really have a long term answer at 3B, and are in a spending mood – could they a realistic destination?

If he gets to the bigs by 2016 the Sox could have a 3/4 Cuban infield.

Free_AEC
Guest
1 year 3 months ago

“The White Sox have a history of attracting Cuban talent”

The White Sox have a history of paying Cuban talent.

Fixed that for you.
_

Gabes
Guest
Gabes
1 year 3 months ago

Pick up Olivera as well and get the four-fecta

Jay29
Guest
Jay29
1 year 3 months ago

Just saw your phone interview on MLB Now. Nice job summing up all this stuff for TV.

But by god, send the media a new head shot!

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