Final Yoan Moncada Suitor Odds Now That He's Finally Cleared to Sign

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistFebruary 3, 2015

AP Images

It's been months since Cuban phenom Yoan Moncada was declared a free agent, but it appears he has finally cleared the remaining red tape and is free to sign with an MLB team.

That according to a tweet from Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports.

Jeff Passan @JeffPassan

Breaking: Yoan Moncada is a free agent after MLB changes its rules regarding Cuban players. Story with details soon on Yahoo Sports.

The 19-year-old is viewed as a legitimate five-tool talent and one who has the skills to be a superstar in the major leagues sooner rather than later, so we could be in for quite the bidding war in the days to come.

It was announced last week that with changing policies between the United States and Cuba, players defecting and establishing residence in a new country like Moncada has done in Guatemala no longer need to be cleared by the Office of Foreign Asset Controls.

With that it appeared a signing could come sooner rather than later, but that was before the league issued a memo this past Saturday asking teams to hold off on signing any Cuban players for the time being.

Passan had the details again.

Jeff Passan @JeffPassan

MLB sent another memo to teams today saying not to sign Cuban players. Said it hopes to receive "guidance" from OFAC "by early next week."

Jeff Passan @JeffPassan

MLB wants assurances from OFAC and other governmental entities that it will not be held culpable if Cuban players engage in identity fraud.

Jeff Passan @JeffPassan

Should it get that, Yoan Moncada, Andy Ibanez and Hector Olivera -- three big-dollar second basemen -- could be able to sign immediately.

In the meantime, a number of teams around the league have been holding private workouts with Moncada over the past few weeks, so now that he has been cleared a deal could come quickly.

With that in mind, let's give take one final look at each suitor's odds of signing him.

Yoan Moncada Suitor Odds
TeamPrivate Workout?Exceeded Int. Bonus?Odds
"The Field"--20/1
St. Louis CardinalsNoNo20/1
Detroit TigersYesNo20/1
Milwaukee BrewersYesNo15/1
San Diego PadresYesNo12/1
Tampa Bay RaysYesYes10/1
San Francisco GiantsYesNo10/1
Boston Red SoxYesYes6/1
Los Angeles DodgersYesNo6/1
New York YankeesYesYes3/1
Odds are my own predictions.

First of all, it's important to note that because Moncada is under the age of 23 and has not played professionally in Cuba for more than five years, he is subject to the international bonus pool restrictions.

Moncada is expected to sign for tens of millions of dollars, and with most teams already exhausting the bulk of their bonus pool since the signing period opened on July 2, that will mean paying a penalty for going over the bonus pool for whoever signs him.

To get an idea of where the bonus pool restrictions stand, the Houston Astros had the largest pool this year at $5,015,400, and the St. Louis Cardinals have the smallest at $1,866,300, according to Baseball America's Ben Badler.

All overages are taxed at 100 percent, and exceeding your allotted money by 15 percent or more means a team is not allowed to sign a player for more than $300,000 for the following two years.

That stipulation takes two interested teams, the Chicago Cubs and Texas Rangers, out of the running for Moncada unless he waits to until after June 15 to sign.

At the same time, three interested teams in the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays have already blown past their pool money for this year, so they may be more inclined to pay the penalties since they have already broken the bank this year.

Essentially, whatever number those teams offer up for Moncada will mean they are willing to pay double that price, since they'll be taxed at 100 percent.

"He's worth going way over your international spending pool, in my opinion," one scouting director told Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com. "This game is about talent and Moncada is the kind of talent worth the investment."

So with all of that in mind, let's take a closer look at the aforementioned suitors and why the odds fall the way they do.

The Front-Runners

John Minchillo/Associated Press

The New York Yankees have long been considered the favorites to sign Moncada, and nothing has changed on that front, as they were one of the first teams to hold a private workout with the young outfielder.

The Yankees were completely unconcerned with the bonus pool this summer when they signed 10 of the top 30 international free agents on the market, according to Baseball America.

Slowly but surely they have built the farm system back to respectability, but with an aging roster at the big league level, they are still searching for high-end young talent who could make up the next big league core.

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Dodgers have to also be considered one of the favorites given their ties to the Cuban pipeline (Yasiel Puig, Alex Guerrero, Erisbel Arruebarrena) and their seemingly limitless payroll flexibility.

Could Moncada join fellow countryman Yasiel Puig in LA?
Could Moncada join fellow countryman Yasiel Puig in LA?Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

However, they have yet to exceed a bonus pool of what was less than $2 million, and they may be wary of limiting themselves in that area in the years to come.

Manager Don Mattingly and president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman both attended Moncada's showcase, according to Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles, so their interest goes beyond just due diligence.

The we have the Boston Red Sox, another team that has exceeded what was a $1.88 million bonus pool thanks to signing two of the top pitchers on the market in Anderson Espinoza ($1.8 million bonus) and Christopher Acosta ($1.5 million bonus) this summer.

They have also been involved in the Cuban market of late, signing outfielder Rusney Castillo to a record seven-year, $72.5 million deal to be the team's starting center fielder.

Xander Bogaerts is likely entrenched at shortstop for the foreseeable future, but there's a good chance Pablo Sandoval will slide into the designated hitter role whenever David Ortiz retires, which could open up third base for Moncada.

The Dark Horses

Lenny Ignelzi/Associated Press

While those three big-market teams have to be considered the favorites to sign Moncada, they are by no means the only teams showing serious interest.

According to Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com, there were roughly 60-70 scouts on hand for his showcase back in November, and since then a number of teams have held private workouts for him.

Along with the three clubs identified as front-runners, the San Diego Padres, Tampa Bay Rays, San Francisco Giants, Milwaukee Brewers and Detroit Tigers have also all taken a look at Moncada one-on-one, according to various reports from MLBTradeRumors.

The Rays are an interesting team to watch from that group, as the usually cautious spenders were something of a surprise in joining the Yankees and Red Sox in exceeding their bonus pool.

That came in large part thanks to the team signing infielder Adrian Rondon, the player Baseball America ranked as the No. 1 prospect in this year's international class, to a $2.95 million bonus. Their bonus pool was just under $2 million.

The Rays have seemingly been stockpiling shortstop prospects of late, recently acquiring Daniel Robertson and Willy Adames in the Ben Zobrist and David Price trades. That's not a bad strategy in today's game, where young shortstops have turned into a currency of sorts.

The Dodgers are not the only team from the NL West showing interest, as the Giants and Padres are both among the teams that could swoop in and surprise.

The Giants' farm system is fronted by a pair of high-end pitching prospects in Kyle Crick and Tyler Beede, but San Francisco is fairly thin as far as legitimate everyday position player talent is concerned, and it has no real long-term option at third base.

The team acquired Casey McGehee via trade this offseason, but he's 32 years old and entering the final year of his contract. Making a splash to sign Moncada could give the Giants a star at the hot corner and provide the offense with some needed punch after the loss of Pablo Sandoval, although it likely wouldn't come for a couple of years.

As for the Padres, new general manager A.J. Preller has been incredibly aggressive in his first offseason at the helm, but he has also done a terrific job in holding onto high-end prospects Austin Hedges, Matthew Wisler and Hunter Renfroe.

They are a vastly improved team, but with Justin Upton potentially leaving in free agency and the infield still something of a question mark at all four positions, Moncada could be the icing on the cake of a big offseason.

It's worth nothing, the team made a run at fellow Cuban defector Yasmany Tomas, with Preller twice traveling to the Dominican Republic to get a firsthand look and the team working him out at least four different times, according to Corey Brock of MLB.com.

The Brewers' interest appears to be legitimate, but they may not be able to offer up the kind of money other teams are, especially with a big extension for Carlos Gomez potentially looming.

A private workout by the Tigers has been viewed mostly as simple diligence on the part of the team, according to MLB.com's Jason Beck, while the Cardinals remain on the periphery, having yet to hold a private workout.

Then there is always the "mystery team" that could swoop in and make a late push to sign him.

The Los Angeles Angels have already exceeded their bonus pool with the signing of 20-year-old Cuban shortstop Roberto Baldoquin to an $8 million bonus, so they could be willing to go all-in.

Only time will tell where he winds up signing, but it now appears clear that Yoan Moncada will be coming to the MLB in the very near future. And that's good news for baseball fans in general, as he has a chance to be an awful lot of fun to watch in the years to come.