The Boston Red Sox have struck Cuban gold again as they edge out the Yankees in a bidding war for Cuban infield prospect Yoan Moncada. Moncada, a 19 year-old switch-hitter, gained interest from a list of MLB teams before landing with Boston. He’s 6’2, 205 pounds and batted .277 over the past two seasons in Cuba.
The deal is not finalized yet according the both the Red Sox and Moncada’s agent David Hastings, but both expect a deal to be worked out very soon and have Moncada in Ft. Myers as early as Tuesday. Moncada’s bonus can be expected to be in the $30 million range an industry source told ESPN meaning the Red Sox are investing serious capital in this player.
Coming off the heels of signing Rusney Castillo, also from Cuba, Moncada became eligible to sign last week when the MLB changed the rule that MLB players did not have to obtain a license from the U.S. government to sign to a major league team. Moncada will likely marinate in AAA for some time, but it’s not expected to last long with that kind of money tied up in him.
The question this brings is how the acquisition affects a few players: Xander Bogaerts, Mike Napoli, Garin Cecchini and, possibly, Dustin Pedroia. As Joe and I discussed this past episode on the podcast, the infield seems to be crowded already and could leave Bogaerts, who was underwhelming last season, on the outs in Boston.
Sandoval will be the third baseman. Dustin Pedroia will be the second baseman, we think. That leaves Bogaerts, Hanley Ramirez and Moncada all competing for short-stop, but what could hurt Bogaerts is his lack of versatility.
Xander Bogaerts can play short-stop and third, but hasn’t played much else in his short career. Hanley Ramirez can play first, short, third and outfield. Moncada has been worked out at second, short, third and outfield even. Moncada is also a switch-hitter. That lack of experience at other positions, could make Bogaerts a trade candidate.
A player like Dustin Pedroia is looked at as the heart and soul of this team, but with this latest acquisition, he’s not exactly necessary anymore. I like Pedroia, but this signing is insurance for Dustin, who hasn’t been healthy for three seasons. With the lack of health came a lack of consistency on offense and offense seems to be where the Red Sox are trending.
Garin Cecchini was a player I was excited about when I went down to Pawtucket and saw him for myself. He has offensive skill and was cultivating the skills for short-stop and third base. Cecchini is now 23 years old and can only stay in the minors for so long. His upside made me want to see him in a Red Sox uniform, but with the signing of Sandoval, he won’t be in that uniform anytime soon. Cecchini looks to be available to me as I look at the current roster.
Mike Napoli is only interesting because he is entering the final year of his contract, making a player infinitely more trade-able. Sandoval played a little first base with the Giants and would be able to cover if the Red Sox wanted to move on from Napoli as well as a but of experience for Ramirez. That move would in turn create a space for Ramirez, Bogerts, Cecchini or Moncada when the time comes.
The logjam to start this spring training seemed to be in the outfield, but with the latest signing of Moncada, they are equally crowded. Players that were sure-things to start should now fear being traded. This in turn will create a healthy competition and keep players on their toes. Overall, you can never have too much talent so it’s hard for me to hate the move.