About a year and a half ago, the Red Sox signed top prospect Yoan Moncada to a $31.5 million signing bonus, which equated to about $63 million total with penalties. The more remarkable part of this story, for Yankees fans at least, was the fact the Yankees failed to outbid the Red Sox, to a ridiculous degree.
The original thought was that the Yankees were out of the running altogether, but as I wrote at the time, ownership said they were unwilling to go above $32 million. It sounded crazy then, and it sounds even crazier today.
Moncada showed his abilities to the general public at this year's Futures Game, where he did this:
Even when Moncada's not on national television, he's still pretty good. He's already at Double-A Portland in his age-21 season, and he has hit .295/.397/.484 with 17 home runs in his 158 games in the minor leagues.
There has been scout praise as well, unsurprisingly. He was rated the second-best prospect in all of baseball by Baseball Prospectus on their midseason rankings, and he was ranked first overall by Baseball America’s midseason Top 100. BP said, in particular, that "...An explosive power/speed combination... propels him to stardom despite a non-premium defensive position."
No matter how you slice it, Moncada is an incredibly talented player and an even more valuable asset to the Red Sox, regardless of the fact they spent that $63 million. The Yankees are, unfortunately, on the sidelines.
One thing that has particularly bothered me about ownership in the past few years is that they are willing to spend, but in varying degrees and at various times, often in an ill-planned manner. They spent outrageously after the 2013 season but not after 2012; they spent a ton on the 2014 international amateur class and committed a large sum on Masahiro Tanaka, but they would not spend on the various Cuban phenoms and recent products out of Korea.
Spending is not always the best decision because it fills an immediate need, and holding back isn't always good just to save money for another day. It's not a science, but there are some times where it's obvious when you should pull the trigger.
Who is to blame here? It's hard to tell. My initial instinct is to say ownership (particularly since Hal Steinbrenner's former brother-in-law, Felix Lopez, reportedly botched the negotiations), but it also could have been based on a more analytical calculation to come short of that $32 million figure. Now they have their extra money. The team is in a rut, they don't look to be exiting anytime soon, and they have the combination of a few departing players and very few quality players to fill that gap.
As I said, spending or holding back at the wrong time is really the complaint here, especially when they have more than enough money to spend as much as they want; it's more a question of how much profit they desire. There is still plenty of time here, because Moncada is still a prospect and we all know what that entails. However, when or if he starts crushing the Yankees, which could be within a year’s time, we will only imagine what could have been.