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How and why the Red Sox signed Yoan Moncada

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The Red Sox have made the Yoan Moncada signing official. What drove them from the public workouts to a pen, paper, and the dotted line in Fort Myers?

It's been more than two weeks since the Red Sox and Cuban super-prospect Yoan Moncada agreed on a $31.5 million signing bonus. But, if Moncada had already been spotted hanging around in Fort Myers wearing team apparel, it still wasn't until Thursday night that he put pen to paper and made it official.

Over on WEEI, Rob Bradford has chronicled the long journey that took Moncada from Cuba to Fort Myers and, if all goes as planned, to Fenway Park in the not-too-distant future. Features of said story include, but are not limited to:

  • A CPA from Tampa representing his first ever baseball client
  • A St. Petersburg PD officer brought in to "protect Moncada against threats of kidnapping."
  • Luis Tiant (you may already know this bit)
  • The Daytona 500

The whole thing is certainly worth a read as much for the story of a random CPA landing one of Cuba's biggest prospects as a client in an age of super agents like Scott Boras.

For our purposes, though, what's important is the last stretch of this. By this point, Moncada fever was at full pitch, with every team who had any hope of matching his price sending eyes to his public workouts. The Red Sox scheduled Moncada for one private workout, then left it at that.

If you followed the Moncada sweepstakes at all, you'll know that not everyone settled for one. The Yankees had Moncada in for a private workout. Then another. Then another. For most, the message was obvious: New York was making it clear they were the ones most interested in Moncada, and the ones who were going to sign him at the end of the day.

The Red Sox, however, weren't disinterested. According to Bradford, they had simply already seen enough:

From the Red Sox' perspective, no more workouts were needed. The message to ownership was simple: One, this is what we think he's worth, and two, we don't think we are going to have access to this level of talent at such a young age again any time soon.

The first part of that message, Moncada's worth, apparently came in around $30 million. It's an incredible sum to pay for a player who will most likely start 2015 in Double-A Portland, particularly when the tax incurred will double that figure. But Bradford says there was a rare unanimity in the organization, with seven separate scouting reports all coming back positive.

Even ownership appears to have been caught up in the wave of Moncada love. While in the past Henry and co. have had their reservations about certain moves, when Ben Cherington went to get the final go ahead to give Moncada $30 million, Henry told him to make it $31 instead.

Then there's the second part of the message. One which reads almost ominous. The Red Sox have spent more than a decade trying to exploit whatever advantages they can find in the complicated rules governing player acquisition in Major League Baseball. In the old days, that was as simple as spending large sums of money in later rounds of the draft for players other teams passed on for "signability" concerns.

In recent years, though, bonus pools have taken over, and made their way into the international market as well. By signing Anderson Espinoza and Christopher Acosta for a comparatively tiny $3.3 million, the Red Sox had already gone so far over their allotted pool that they would be barred from signing major prospects on the international market for the next two years. With the very real possibility of an international draft on the horizon, and the Red Sox hoping not to find themselves drafting all that high in the years to come, that left the seventh overall pick this coming June, and Yoan Moncada as Boston's two opportunities to stock up for what could be a long winter ahead.

The Red Sox did not need Yoan Moncada. Not in the way that certain other franchises might with their depleted farm systems and aging rosters. But with a dry spell on the horizon, waiting for the need to arise is a good way to end up in danger. Just ask that certain other franchise who missed out on their biggest and best opportunity in Moncada. It was not a situation they wanted to face. And so they went above and beyond to land the player who, had he been born elsewhere, might have been a first overall pick. Not a bad piece of work from Ben Cherington and co.