FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Calling him "one of the few most talented 19-year-olds in the world," Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington introduced the team's newest acquisition from Cuba, switch-hitting second baseman Yoan Moncada.
The club formally announced Moncada's signing to a record $31.5 million deal on Thursday night after coming to terms with him on a deal Feb. 22. According to the certified public accountant representing Moncada, David Hastings, the other finalists for Moncada's services were the Yankees, Dodgers and Padres.
"He's got a really unique combination of skills -- great athlete, speed, switch hitter with power from both sides of the plate, defensive skills," Cherington said. "He's an athlete with the ability to play multiple positions if he had to, but he's a natural second baseman."
No determination has yet been made, Cherington said, of when Moncada will be assigned to the roster of a minor-league team. There's a chance he could remain in extended spring, given that he has not played in competition since December, 2013, when he left his team in Cuba's Serie Nacionale, Cienfuegos.
When he does begin his pro career, Cherington said, it will likely be with the Greenville (S.C.) Drive, the team's low Class A affiliate in the South Atlantic League.
Cherington said Moncada will remain at second base, the position Moncada said he is most comfortable, for the time being. He also has played some short, third base and center field.
"We want to try to let him get into some baseball normalcy as quickly as possible," Cherington said.
Moncada said he hopes to be playing in the major leagues by next year, but understands the process could take longer. The Red Sox say they have no timetable.
"He's going to enter the minor league system -- there's still development to do," Cherington said. "He's a developing baseball player, but an exceptionally talented one. Obviously, given the investment we're making we believe he can be a very good major-league player for a long time and we're committed to helping him get there, in the right way."
The Sox have tracked Moncada since 2010, when scout Todd Claus saw him in Holland. Director of International scouting Eddie Romero first saw him in Amsterdam in the summer of 2013 and then he and Pacific Rim scout Jon Deeble saw him in Taiwan in December, and the opinion of scouts who subsequently saw him was "unanimous" that the Red Sox should sign him.
Moncada said he has not seen his family in more than nine months, after never going a week without seeing them. "That's very hard," he said.
"I'm just really looking forward to getting back on the field and playing baseball because I've gone so long since I've actually been able to just to go out and play," Moncada said. "I'm looking forward for the opportunity of just being with this organization and very thankful to everyone with the Red Sox who made that possible.
"More than anything, I'm looking forward to getting in shape and baseball shape, so I can get back on field."