In the wake of Yoan Moncada being declared a free agent by Major League Baseball and eligible to sign, there’s going to be a feeding frenzy at hand. But let’s face it, Blue Jays fans, the tantalizing, 19-year-old Cuban prospect who would become the Blue Jays’ best infield prospect on a fast track to the majors is not coming to Toronto.
First, let’s talk about Moncada. He’s a 6-foot, 210-pound infielder who can switch hit and has been compared to Jorge Soler and Yasiel Puig. We all know that Puig has some of the most exciting tools in baseball but Moncada has been on the international radar since 2010 when he dominated the 16 and Under World Championship as a third baseman. He has also dominated Cuba’s youth leagues, showing speed and bat speed as well as power. He played in the Cuban major league in 2012/13 as a 17 year old and still hit .283/.414/.348 with 13 stolen bases in 172 plate appearances. In 2013/14, he hit .273/.365/.406 in 195 plate appearances, playing mostly second base. Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs rates him as having “plus bat speed, plus raw power, 65 to 70 speed (6.6 in the 60), the feel and hands to stick in the infield and enough arm to play anywhere on the field.”
You must be getting excited now; Moncada plays a position that the Blue Jays need. All the Blue Jays have to do is spend some money to get the international free agent (IFA). Because he’s 19, Moncada falls under the regulations of the international free agent bonus pool where each team is allowed to spend a certain amount of money on signing bonuses for international free agents.
Here’s the problem. If the Blue Jays sign Moncada, they’ll have to blow their 2014/15 international bonus pool way out of the water. Even if they haven’t gone over yet, the signing bonus would push any team into the “luxury tax,” forcing the club to pay an additional 100% on any amount over the pool. The Blue Jays signed a couple of fairly high-profile guys this year in Juan Meza and Kevin Vicuna. The info I’ve seen says that the Blue Jays had a $2.85 million bonus pool and Meza got a $1.6 million signing bonus. meaning that the Blue Jays may have a little space to deal with before getting hit with the 100% tax.
But that’s not going to matter. People in the industry are expecting the signing bonus to be anywhere from $25 million to $40 million, meaning that the team is going to have to pay almost double the signing bonus. We also know that the Blue Jays are not exactly spending a ton of money these days and the kind of bonus and contract structure that Moncada is going to command is way out of the Blue Jays’ league. Estimates are that Moncada is going to command a seven-to-nine year contract and could land $100 million when all is said and done.
The other penalty for spending so far above the international bonus pool is that the team will lose the right to sign any players for over $300,000 for two years. If you believe the sources, like Kiley McDaniel, the Blue Jays have an agreement to sign Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. for about $3.2 million at the July 2 opening of the next IFA window. If the Blue Jays sign Moncada, then Guerrero would be off the table.
Clearly the Blue Jays aren’t going to incur the financial or IFA limitations in order to sign Moncada so let’s just repress that dream way and try to get excited about bargain basement relievers.
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