February 23, 2015 at 11:27 AM
The Red Sox have reached an agreement to sign 19-year-old Cuban infielder Yoan Moncada (pictured) to a record setting deal, as first reported by Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com. The club has not confirmed the signing but Joel Sherman of the New York Post is reporting that Sanchez will receive a signing bonus of $31.5 million, exceeding the then-record $8.27 million for a signing bonus for a minor league contract that the Diamondbacks paid Cuban right-hander Yoan Lopez last month. The Red Sox, who were already over their allotment for international free agent bonuses for the current signing period, will pay a 100 percent tax on the bonus. They had already incurred a penalty that will prevent them from signing international free agents to bonuses higher than $300,000 for two years.
Moncada is 6 feet, 210 pounds, and possesses an impressive tool set, with his power, speed, and arm strength already grading out as plus according to Baseball America's Ben Badler. Moncada is a switch hitter, and while his swing is currently said to be better from the left side, Badler notes that his hit tool also has plus potential. He worked out all over the infield during his showcases but spent most of his time in Cuba at second base, and most scouts believe that he is best suited to second or third base in the long term.
According to Badler, once the deal becomes official, Moncada will be ranked the 10th best prospect in baseball and the top guy in an already strong Red Sox system by Baseball America, topping catcher Blake Swihart who would move down to the 18th spot in their rankings. He is not considered major league ready, and is expected to need a year or two in the minors, especially after not playing in a game in more than a year. Badler believes his first assignment will likely be in Class-A.
Moncada began playing in Cuba's Serie Nacional as a 17-year-old, and over his first two seasons hit .277/.388/.380 with four home runs and 21 stolen bases, not eye-popping numbers but very good for his age. Over those two years, he was more than 10 years younger than the average player in the league. His outstanding tool set became more apparent when he dominated against players of similar age in international tournaments for Cuba. In the 2013 18U World Championships, he hit .375/.483/.542, leading his Cuban team in all three slash line stats.
Moncada is subject to baseball's international amateur bonus pool because he is younger than 23 years old and does not yet have five years experience in a professional league. Earlier this signing period, the Red Sox signed two highly touted pitchers, Anderson Espinoza and Christopher Acosta, for a total of $3.3 million. (A list of all confirmed Red Sox international signings can be found here.)
The Red Sox had long been linked to Moncada, mostly along with other teams that had already exceeded their international pool numbers such as the San Diego Padres and New York Yankees, who were believed by many to be the favorites. This continues there recent trend of spending large money on the international market. In addition to their spending on the international amateur market, last year the club signed outfielder Rusney Castillo to a $72.5 million contract, the highest ever paid to an Cuban free agent.
Photo Credit: Yoan Moncada by Baseball America
Will Woodward is a Staff Writer for SoxProspects.com. Follow him on Twitter @SPWill.