TAMPA, Fla. -- Today's entry should probably be headlined RABID Reaction, because that's how Yankees fans are reacting to the news that Yoan Moncada, the highly sought-after 19-year-old Cuban infielder, will be playing not for the Yankees, but for the -- wait for it -- BOSTON RED SOX!
The news that the Yankees would not match Boston's offer (a reported $31.5 million, according to MLB.com) is a double whammy to a fan base that wants to see the team get younger and more athletic -- and hates to see the Red Sox get anyone pursued by the Yankees. But the reality is, a $31.5 million bonus to Moncada translates to a nearly $63 million hit to a ballclub, including the penalties imposed by Major League Baseball for exceeding the amount allowed by the league for international signings. That's a lot of cash to commit to a player who has never played outside of Cuba and is probably two or three years away from the major leagues.
Not enough Cash: Yankees GM Brian Cashman acknowledged the Yankees were all-in on Moncada, a switch-hitting infielder who projects as a shortstop or second baseman. But Cashman also admitted that even if they had upped their offer (a reported $25 million) after being informed by Moncada's agent Sunday that they had come up short, it probably would not have been enough.
"We went to where we were comfortable going, and it was an uncomfortable number to put forth," Cashman said. "But it still fell short. We were involved in the Moncada efforts until the very end. [Sunday] they said they were going to make a decision and wanted your best offer. We presented that. It just didn’t work.”
How good is he? Cashman said Moncada "has a pretty high ceiling," and others, including ESPN's Keith Law, have rated him as the one of the best prospects to come out of Cuba in years, a crop that includes the likes of Yoenis Cespedes, Yasiel Puig and Jose Abreu.
"He's got a lot of ability and projects to be a quality player," Cashman said. "I don’t think anybody disagrees with the ability. I would doubt there’s any disagreement on the scouting assessment of the player. It just comes down to how much money you were willing to commit."
That last statement could be interpreted as frustration with ownership's unwillingness to close a $7 million gap, slightly more than they're paying Chris Capuano.
But what's the real cost? That is the key question. The penalty for exceeding the international spending limits is dollar-for-dollar, meaning that $7 million gap, assuming the Red Sox would not have upped their offer, would actually have been $14 million. And the total penalty, as mentioned above, would have approached $32 million.
What might it have meant? That Moncada could have been the long-term replacement for Derek Jeter, or more likely, Robinson Cano, assuming Moncada would have eventually been moved to second base. Now, it's Didi Gregorius and Stephen Drew.
What does it really mean? That the best prospect in Major League Baseball now wears the uniform of the Yankees' most hated divisional rival, and if the projections hold true, probably will continue to for many years to come.