If you've been following the Hot Stove lately, you've heard the name Yoan Moncada. Moncada is a 19-year-old Cuban infieder who recently defected to the United States with the intention of playing in the MLB. Today, Commissioner Manfred and the MLB head honchos finally removed the last bit of red tape surrounding his defection yesterday, officially making him a free agent and kicking off a bidding war unheard of at this time of year. Moancada is a switch-hitting infielder who has apparently captured the attention of several major league franchises due to his incredible raw talent. He has already worked out for several of those franchises. According to Bleacher Report, his most natural positions are second and third base, which no doubt helps his cause since several top teams are looking for a long-term solution at those spots. Here's my top five fits for Moancada among MLB teams.
1. Los Angeles Dodgers
Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles has reported that Andrew Freidman, the new leader of the Dodgers' front office, has kept close tabs on Moancada. Saxon also reported that both Freidman and Dodgers manager Don Mattingly have attended some of Moancada's workouts. Three of the Dodgers' four infielders - 3B Juan Uribe, SS Jimmy Rollins, and 2B Howie Kendrick - are all veterans and will all be free agents after this season. The Dodgers have a couple options when it comes to replacing those guys, but Moancada, who can play any of those positions, is sure looking like a perfect long-term answer for Freidman and co.
Money: Check. Good fit: Check. Plus, they already have a couple other Cuban defectors on their roster, including some guy named Yasiel Puig. I've heard he's pretty good. Puig could be a factor in convincing Moncada to take his talents to Hollywood.
2. New York Yankees
The Yankees need to get back to being the Yankees and they need to do it now. Their farm system is slowly rebuilding, but the addition on Moncada could help kick it into high gear. GM Brian Cashman has made it no secret that his office has been pursuing Moncada from the start, and they sure have been testing the international free agency waters lately – a July 2014 Baseball America list showed that the Yankees had signed 10 of the top 30 international free agents so far that season.
Because of all that big international spending, the Yankees have already exceeded the league’s bonus pool restrictions and will have to pay the MLB as much as they agree to pay Moncada if they sign him. However, they are still the Yankees and they desperately want to remind us of that. If Cashman believes Moncada will be the key to the Bronx Bombers’ resurrection, he won’t be afraid to spend big on the Cuban stud.
3. San Francisco Giants
Why would the defending champs be interested in Moncada? I mean, they already have a great infield with Brandon Belt, Joe Panik, Brandon Crawford, and Pablo Sand – oh, wait. Yep, even though San Francisco traded for the Marlins’ Casey McGehee to replace the Panda, the 32-year-old will be a free agent next year and the Giants will be right back where they started – unless they get Moncada. Add in the added bonus of being able to snatch him from their division rivals Dodgers and Padres, and all of a sudden the idea of a Giant push for the Cuban doesn’t seem that unlikely.
“Now, son, we can’t offer you the same type of money the Dodgers and Yankees will. But do you see those three trophies over there? You can win one just like it if you sign that piece of paper right there.” Convincing, no?
4. Boston Red Sox
Like the Dodgers, the Red Sox have money to spend and a willingness to make a splash. Although the Sox infield looks pretty set right now, Moncada could be groomed as a replacement for Xander Bogaerts or even Pablo Sandoval if the Panda moves into more of a DH role once David Ortiz retires. Even though the Red Sox seem like one of the deeper teams in baseball right now offensively, their infield is one of the oldest in baseball and GM Ben Cherington will have to address that at some point.
The Red Sox have also blown past the league limits on international spending and face the same penalty as the Yankees if they sign Moncada. However, the need to stock up on foreign talent before new MLB comissioner Rob Manfred completes his overhaul of the league’s foreign player signings may make those penalties worthwhile for Cherington and co. It also can’t hurt that the Red Sox already have several core players who are Latino, including Ortiz, Sandoval, Hanley Ramirez, and newly signed fellow Cuban Rusney Castillo.
DARK HORSE: San Diego Padres
Here’s my dark horse pick, and I go with the Padres over the Cardinals, Tigers, and Rays (all of whom have also shown intrest in Moncada) for two reasons: one, they have a pretty week infield right now and will have to make some moves in order to solidify their vastly improved lineup. Two, I can’t think of a better way for A.J. Preller to cap a historic offseason than by going out and reeling in Moncada – and I don’t think Preller can either. Of course, it doesn’t seem likely, but Preller has already shown us what he can pull off in unlikely situations.
The eyes of everyone in baseball, including those of us here at MLB_NL_AL, will be focused on these teams in the coming days as we wait and see who ends up with Yoan Moncada in their farm system.