Yoan Moncada agreed to terms with the Boston Red Sox on Monday, ending months of speculation surrounding the prized Cuban infielder. He’ll get $31.5 million according to multiple reports, while the Red Sox will pay the same amount in taxes to Major League Baseball because Moncada is 19 years old and has less than five years’ professional experience playing overseas.
The Yankees and Dodgers were the teams most frequently linked to Moncada the past few weeks. According to FoxSports.com:
The Dodgers passed on Moncada as well, unwilling to give up the chance to sign younger international prospects for $300,000 or more the next two years. The Yankees and Red Sox already had forfeited that chance due to previous signings, and now the Dodgers can exploit a market that will not include the two AL East behemoths as competition.
Andrew Friedman gave a tepid response Thursday to a question about whether the Dodgers’ farm system is strong enough for him to be comfortable not signing any big-name Cubans the next two years. General manager Farhan Zaidi said Saturday that “it’s sort of a more tangible opportunity cost to sign (Moncada) and presumably be shut out in the subsequent signing period.”
Hector Olivera, 29, played second base for Team Cuba at the 2009 World Baseball Classic and 2008 Olympics. (Getty Images)
The Dodgers have been linked to four Cuban free agents this week, and if that’s not enough … no, that’s enough.
Here’s what you need to know about the quartet.
February 23 will mark the seventh anniversary of Fidel Castro’s final day as president of Cuba.
In the United States, it’s Yoan Moncada Day.
The free agent infielder will sign with a major-league team sometime in the next 12 days, his representative told ESPN.com. From Jerry Crasnick’s piece:
The San Diego Padres won’t draft until 41st overall in June because they signed James Shields. (Getty Images)
When James Shields‘ contract with the San Diego Padres becomes official — he’s reportedly agreed to terms on a four-year contract — the Dodgers will hold the 35th overall pick in the June draft.
That’s in addition to the 24th overall pick that was theirs by virtue of their 2014 regular season record.
None of this became official until today, when the 2015 draft order was finally set. Why did it take so long?
Because Shields rejected a qualifying offer from the Kansas City Royals before signing with the Padres, the Padres forfeited the 13th overall pick in the draft (and won’t draft until the 41st overall pick). And because Shields was the last unsigned free agent who’d rejected a qualifying offer, every team can confidently say where it will pick June 8.
That’s the short version of what went into setting the draft order; BaseballAmerica.com has a nice breakdown of the particulars.
The Dodgers were among several teams scouting second baseman Hector Olivera at a showcase in the Dominican Republic, according to BaseballAmerica.com.
Olivera, 29, hasn’t been declared a free agent by Major League Baseball. He reportedly defected from Cuba last September. In 10 seasons in Cuba’s top league, Olivera was a career .323/.407/.505 hitter who walked more often than he struck out. Listed at 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds by BA, his power translated well in Friday’s showcase. And the Dodgers were watching. Writes Ben Badler:
Of all the teams at the showcase today, the Dodgers had the most notable presence. Dodgers vice president of baseball operations Josh Byrnes, VP of amateur and international scouting David Finley and director of player personnel Galen Carr were all there.
The report also lists the Diamondbacks, Giants, Mariners, Padres and Braves as interested parties.
Chad Billingsley made two rehab starts for Single-A Rancho Cucamonga in 2014 before an elbow injury ended his season. (Rancho Cucamonga Quakes on Twitter)
was chosen by the Dodgers in the first round of the 2003 draft. Since then, the Dodgers were the only franchise that employed him. That changed Thursday, when Billingsley signed an incentive-laden, one-year contract with the Philadelphia Phillies.
In Philadelphia, Billingsley joins a starting staff that includes Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee, former Dodger Aaron Harang, Jerome Williams and David Buchanan.
Once heralded as a possible right-handed anchor to complement Clayton Kershaw in the Dodgers’ rotation, Billingsley was the Dodgers’ minor-league pitcher of the year in 2004 and 2005. But he only pitched two games the last two years because of elbow injuries. The Dodgers filled out their starting rotation this winter by signing Brandon McCarthy and Brett Anderson then added depth by acquiring Joe Wieland, Mike Bolsinger, Juan Nicasio and others. By the end of December, Billingsley’s time with the Dodgers was all but officially through.
Billingsley’s 1,037 strikeouts are the 13th-most by a Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher. In an interview last September he reflected on his time in the organization, noting that he’s been with the Dodgers more than a third of his life.
Nineteen year-old infield prospect Yoan Moncada, whom the Dodgers have been hotly pursuing since he legally left Cuba, could be cleared to sign with a major-league team soon.
According to a report on Yahoo! Sports, Moncada is clear to receive a license to sign with any major-league team because of a recent foreign policy change by the United States government. Writes Jeff Passan:
Any person who meets the requirements for a general unblocking license no longer will be issued a specific unblocking license, a Treasury Department official told Yahoo Sports, putting the onus on MLB to verify Moncada’s residency [in Guatemala] and allow teams to begin negotiating contracts with him. Moncada had been waiting for a specific license from OFAC since late September, sources said, the only hold-up in an expected bidding war for his services.
MLB was drafting a letter to OFAC on Tuesday asking for a meeting in the near future to clarify the new regulations and potentially change league policy, which requires a specific unblocking license. Should a meeting take place soon, one league official estimated Moncada could be free to negotiate with teams within two weeks.
Moncada has already reportedly worked out privately with the Dodgers, among a number of teams.
Dodgers general manager Farhan Zaidi told MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM that the Dodgers will “definitely be a player” for free agent Cuban infielder Yoan Moncada, confirming earlier reports. You can hear that full interview here.
Moncada, 19, has drawn throngs of scouts to his workouts. He could command up to a $50 million signing bonus. Since he is less than 23 years old, Moncada’s bonus would count against a team’s international spending allocation. By extension, the team that signs Moncada faces a heavy tax from MLB, a situation that favors the big-market clubs with money to spend. The Red Sox and Yankees were initially reported as the heavy favorites to sign Moncada.
Since Moncada’s major-league debut is likely years away, it’s too soon to know whether or not to believe the hype. He hasn’t even been cleared to sign with an MLB team by the federal government, which always comes with an unpredictable timetable. That said, there’s been a lot of hype about his baseball talent. How he left Cuba legally, with the government’s blessing, is another story without fully-fleshed details. We’ll pass along more as the story develops.
One more reason to click on the link to the interview: At the end, Zaidi comments on GM Dave Stewart’s assertion that the Arizona Diamondbacks are a “true baseball team” because their decisions are not driven by analytics.
Catcher A.J. Ellis batted .191 in 93 games for the Dodgers last season. (Associated Press photo)
The Dodgers and catcher A.J. Ellis have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year contract worth a reported $4.25 million.
Ellis, 33, made $3.55 million in 2014, when he batted .191/.323/.254 in 93 games. The new contract would make Ellis the 12th-highest paid catcher in baseball, not bad for a player who has yet to hit free agency.
MLBTradeRumors.com projected Ellis to earn $3.8 million in arbitration.
The Dodgers acquired switch-hitting catcher Yasmani Grandal from the San Diego Padres in December with the intention of dividing playing time between Grandal and Ellis in 2015.
Five other Dodgers remain eligible for arbitration: pitchers Kenley Jansen and Juan Nicasio, infielder Justin Turner and outfielder Chris Heisey. The Dodgers avoided arbitration with infielder Darwin Barney in December by agreeing to a $2.5 million contract.
Dodgers outfielder Andre Ethier still has three years and $53.5 million remaining on his contract, plus a $17.5 million vesting option for 2018. (John McCoy/Staff photographer)
File this one in the lukewarm rumor file.
We’ve reported in the past the multiple teams showed interest in Andre Ethier. Evidently the Baltimore Orioles are one of those teams, and they still have not ruled out acquiring him from the Dodgers, according to a report Sunday on masnsports.com.
From Roch Kubatko: