Last week, stud Cuban infielder Yoan Moncada officially became a free agent. The 19-year-old has already been deemed as one of the best prospects to ever come out of Cuba. Typically, someone of Moncada's caliber would be a favorite to go to New York or Boston. However, the landscape of baseball is changing and San Diego has emerged as an early favorite. After finalizing a 4 year, $75 million deal with James Shields, the Padres brought Moncada in for a private workout. The Yankees, Dodgers and Giants all seem extremely high on Moncada as well. Moncada has private workouts scheduled for the next two weeks and is then expected to make a decision.
So, lets address the elephant in the room: Where are all the Moncada-to-Boston rumors?
I mean, Boston is supposed to be a huge market team that is after every highly prized free agent, right? While people were drooling over the idea of a 19-year-old Cuban infielder that may not even clear papers to play in the United States, the Red Sox offered contracts to a couple of proven veterans. The Sox acquired Pablo Sandoval for 5 years at $95 million and Hanley Ramirez for 4 years at $88 million, with a vesting option for a 5th year. They have also acquired a number of starting pitchers, but nothing flashy. Don't get me started on the Red Sox pitching situation.
With a salary of close to $200 million, the Red Sox have one of the largest payrolls in the MLB. If they wanted to get into the Moncada bidding war, they would have to fork over at least $50 million in signing bonus money. However, because they have already exhausted their international free agent money, the Red Sox would have to pay a 100% penalty. So, Boston would essentially be paying $100 million for a 19 year old unproven prospect.
Moreover, people tend to forget that Xander Bogaerts is still our shortstop-of-the-future. Bogaerts did not necessarily light it up last year, but his plate discipline and timely hitting in the 2013 World Series cannot be forgotten. Personally, if there was a deal to be made for an ace pitcher, I would trade Bogaerts but the Red Sox brass does not seem to be exploring that possibility at the moment. As the current roster is shaped, the Red Sox already have one of the best lineups in baseball. Moncada could, however, be reassurance if Bogaerts does not pan out. It is expected that he will play a year or two in the minor leagues before joining a big league club.
If the Red Sox were to somehow land Moncada, trades and roster adjustments would swirl around this team for the next two years until the kid was called up to Boston. If Bogaerts does not live up to all the hype, then they may look to trade him or possibly move him to third base. Depending on if David Ortiz is still playing, Sandoval may switch to first, leaving Napoli out of the picture, or taking over the DH role. The fact of the matter is that I do not think that the Red Sox need Moncada. Some healthy competition never hurts a team, but it is important to not have your players looking over their should for 162 games. This team needs an ace like Cole Hamels or Ryan Zimmerman and not an unproven 19-year-old with no set position.
By Pete Packowski @Pete_BBS