The sweepstakes for outfielder Yasmany Tomas appears to be winding down.

The 24-year-old outfielder could sign with a team as soon as this weekend, according to Jorge Arangure of Vice Sports, and when he does, he’s expected to become the highest-paid Cuban player in baseball history. Yet, amazingly, Tomas isn’t the Cuban prospect everyone is talking about.

That honor belongs to Yoan Moncada, whose open workout in Guatemala on Wednesday was seen by an “estimated 60-70 scouts,” per Jonathan Mayo of The 19-year-old infielder has quickly emerged as one of the more hyped prospects in recent memory and is expected to destroy the record for spending on an amateur player.

According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, Moncada is expected to receive $30 to $40 million, putting him in the same range as fellow Cubans Yoenis Cespedes ($36 million) and Yasiel Puig ($42 million).

The only difference is that Moncada’s age and lack of professional experience will make him an amateur international free agent and therefore subject to international spending restrictions.

So what does that mean? Well, any team willing to give Moncada $30 to $40 million basically will be ignoring its bonus pool, as they’ll be forced to pay a 100 percent luxury on all overages and face other spending limitations in subsequent years.

But before we get too far into the specifics of Moncada’s potential deal, let’s take a look at the guy set to rewrite the international market.



Moncada debuted with Cienfuegos in Serie Nacional in 2012-13 as a 17-year-old, playing alongside 2014 American League Rookie of the Year Jose Abreu. The switch-hitter enjoyed a strong rookie season, batting .283/.414/.348 in 172 plate appearances to go along with 13 steals.

Ben Badler of Baseball America notes some of Moncada’s other accomplishments from that season:

Moncada also made his mark at the league’s All-Star Game, where Cuba holds certain skill competitions in addition to a Home Run Derby. Among the events are races to first base and around the bases. At the 2012-13 All-Star Game, Moncada won both races, beating Rusney Castillo, a 70 runner on the 20-80 scale, and Guillermo Heredia, a 60 runner who started in center field in the 2013 World Baseball Classic.

The 2013-14 season was Moncada’s last in Serie Nacional, and he went out on a high note after batting .273/.365/.406 in 195 plate appearances.

Back in early November,’s Jesse Sanchez reported Moncada had defected from Cuba and established residency in Guatemala. However, the lack of information surrounding his departure from the island, as well as the relative ease with which he established residency, has raised eyebrows within baseball’s inner circles, says Kiley McDaniel of FanGraphs:

It’s assumed by people in the international baseball industry that Moncada is at some juncture in the same process that Puig was in and that Moncada will be ‘found’ once the right people get paid, which could be any day or much longer. It may not be pretty, but this is what elite Cuban baseball players have to do to get paid these days.

Passan suggests something similar and wonders whether the Cuban government truly allowed Moncada to leave:

They wonder how he got to Guatemala, and how he did so on what his handlers say is a legal Cuban passport, meaning the government OK’d his departure, something never before done for a high-level ballplayer. Further, they speculate how much money it’s going to take to sign him. And then they try to understand how one kid from Cuba could change the entire structure of amateur talent around the world.

He goes on to mention that Moncada will become a free agent once Major League Baseball has finished its standard investigation into his residency in Guatemala and the Office of Foreign Assets Control has officially cleared him to sign with a team.


Scouting Report

I’ll be the first to admit that, like most people, I’ve never seen Moncada play in person. That said, it’s clear we’re talking about a potentially elite prospect.

Per McDaniel:

Moncada is 19 and packs a lot of tools into his 6’1″, 210-pound frame. He’s a plus-plus runner with above-average raw power from both sides of the plate and the tools/skills to stick in the infield, possibly at shortstop. Moncada is the quick-twitch type with big bat speed that clubs covet, and his track record of hitting at big tournaments and in Cuba’s professional leagues is excellent considering his age. 

Meanwhile, Mayo reached out to sources that attended Moncada’s showcase in Guatemala on Wednesday, with one scouting director saying the teenager is “worth going way over your international spending pool.” Mayo added:

Different sources had Moncada timed differently in the 60-yard dash, though he ran somewhere in the 6.56- to 6.6-second range. That gives him a 70 for his speed on the 20-to-80 scouting scale, or close to the top of the scale. He reportedly looked better at third and second than he did at shortstop, with enough arm from any infield position. Moncada swung the bat well from both sides of the plate, showing plus raw power both ways. The only negative was that he didn’t face live pitching, hitting only off of a BP pitcher. When asked to grade out Moncada‘s tools based on this workout, in combination with previous reports, one scout gave the following grades:

Hit – 60
Power – 60
Speed – 70
Arm – 60
Field – 50

There is no available video of Moncada at the moment, so unfortunately all we have to go on are industry articles and various reports. However, it’s enough to know that if the baseball community is this excited about Moncada, then we should be, too.


Free Agency

It’s a foregone conclusion that the team that signs Moncada will set a record for spending on international amateur free agents and then be forced to pay a 100 percent tax on the overage.

The real question is: How soon will Moncada be able to sign?

McDaniel shares his insight on the matter:

If Moncada is declared a free agent between now and July 2, 2015, then [the Red Sox and New York Yankees] have an advantage as they have huge revenues and have already gone over their pool amount and paid the penalty. To sign him, any team would go over their pool and pay the overage, but teams that are under their pool would want their year to go over their pool to also include a full crop of July 2 players to make up for the two-year penalty.

Conversely, if Moncada becomes a free agent any time from July 2, 2015 to 2017, those two clubs have no chance to bid on him because of the two-year penalty. 

Suddenly it makes more sense why there were 60 to 70 scouts in attendance at his showcase Wednesday. Yet Passan still pegs a select few teams as the potential front-runners to sign Moncada:

So far, the closest any team has come to shattering its pool with one player is the Los Angeles Angels, who signed 20-year-old infielder Roberto Baldoquin for $8 million last week. Moncada is considered a far superior prospect, and with the Angels, New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox among the teams that have exceeded their 2014 pools by 15 percent, the incentive exists to go strong on Moncada. Few avenues still exist to outright buy amateur talent, and as MLB goes forward, this may represent among the last.

The seemingly imminent sweepstakes for Moncada will be something baseball has never dealt with before, though it’s yet to be seen what action, if any, the league will take to prevent such a deal. However, keep in mind that any team willing to spend beyond its international bonus pool is free to do so but will be subject to the aforementioned taxes and signing restrictions in future years.

The process behind Moncada becoming a free agent may take some time, especially if there are concerns regarding his departure from Cuba. But make no mistake about it: The teenage phenom has already seared his name into our minds.

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