It must have been a harrowing few months for Cuban phenom Yoan Moncada between his initial trek from Cuba, to showcasing his skill for over a dozen clubs and his time spent in limbo as MLB decided how to deal with the effects of a proposed "normalization" of U.S./Cuba relations. MLB finally made their decision and will no longer require a special license for Moncada to join the league and he is now your standard International free agent. The timing is of course fabulous news for the Yankees, as they will be limited to offering $300,000 to International signings for two years starting July 2nd, having blown past the signing limit last year. That's why the rumor mill has assumed the Yankees would "go all in" on the young infielder, since they'll be mostly sitting on the sidelines for the next two years.
Still, just how far are the Yankees willing to go? Reports have Moncada commanding a bonus of upwards of 40 million dollars and then a matching amount going to the league in signing penalties. That's a lot of money for what amounts to a prospect, one that hasn't played baseball in about two years. He would undoubtedly become one of the best prospects in the league, however, and he projects to have enormous offensive upside. He's not expected to stick at shortstop though, so visions of him replacing Derek Jeter may need to be put on hold. He'll probably need 1-2 years in the minors anyways before we find out if his future is at second, third or the outfield.
The Yankees are going to be involved in nothing short of a frenzy. The Red Sox and Dodgers are both expected to be major players in this bidding war, and Boston finds themselves in the exact same signing penalty situation that could spur their aggressiveness. Moncada's expected to conduct a few more showcases this month and visit with a couple of teams a second time, so the process could be a lengthy one. Half of baseball could be seriously involved in all this before Moncada inks his deal. The kid's certainly earned the right to drive up his price after all the hassles he's dealt with just trying to play baseball in this country.
Now I'm no psychic, but I can already predict that the vast majority of Yankee fans will be royally pissed if the team allows Moncada to slip through their grasp. It's hard not to be, when the team can snatch up a 19-year-old wunderkind without giving up anything but money. Also when it happens that that team in particular could paint their stadium completely in gold and still turn a profit this year. But money still matters, and the Yankees are going to place a value on Moncada that they think he's worth. And that value might just happen to be less than what another team has placed on him. The Yankees aren't the only team out there that could use a boost to their farm system.
So I suggest everyone take a long and deep breath. This could be a more harrowing experience than the Masahiro Tanaka sweepstakes we dealt with last year, and it could even bring back memories of Red Sox/Yankees bidding wars of yore.