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.