The Red Sox and Cuban infielder Yoan Moncada have agreed to a $30 million deal (update: $31.5 million) according to MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez:
BREAKING - Source: Cuban INF prospect Yoan Moncada agrees with Red Sox on a deal in $30 million range. Check http://t.co/mkcBseoZWQ.— Jesse Sanchez (@JesseSanchezMLB) February 23, 2015
The Sox, along with the Padres and Yankees, had been viewed as favorites heading into today, with the Boston sending Luis Tiant and the Yankees enlisting Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez in their recruitment efforts. The Dodgers had been fading from the competition, likely turning their attention to dominating next year's market with so many of the big fish having removed themselves from the picture.
As Moncada is not being signed to a major league deal, the Red Sox do not need to free up a 40-man roster space. He will be under team control for six years of service time as any other prospect would, with that clock not starting until he joins the major league team.
Moncada has been the center of attention on this year's international free agent class since being declared a free agent earlier this month. The 19-year-old phenom has five-tool potential, capable of playing any infield position (though second or third base are his most likely landing spots) with the ability to hit for both average and power. Scouts haven't had much opportunity to get a grasp on his plate discipline in public workouts, but there were no knocks on Moncada in that department coming out of Cuba.
If you're looking for comparisons, Ben Badler of Baseball America described him as having more upside than Boston's last Cuban acquisition in Rusney Castillo and better than Yasmany Tomas, who signed a six-year, $68 million deal with the Diamondbacks late in 2014. On the whole, it's easy to see why the Red Sox were willing to commit $30 million to Moncada, even knowing it would cost them an additional $30 million in tax for being far beyond the typical bonus limits on international free agents.
For the Red Sox especially, though, Moncada represented a chance to get the most bang for their buck not in terms of actual dollars, but in terms of commitment to this international free agency class. The team had already invested so much in this year's pool that they will be heavily restricted from signing players in next year's pool. Once a team is past a certain point, though, going even further carries no additional penalties, meaning that for the Red Sox the next class was already a sunk cost.
Still, Moncada is just 19. He will likely start 2015 in High-A Salem or, if the Red Sox are feeling particularly aggressive, Double-A Portland. He has the potential to move quickly through the system given his incredible talent, but there's no realistic scenario which sees Moncada in Boston in 2015. When he does make the jump, however, his arrival should be as exciting as that of any player in recent memory.