It’s Friday, do you know where your favorite Cuban baseball prospect is?
Bet the Dodgers do.
Every day seems to bring news of another workout by the latest Cuban phenom, all apparently viewed carefully by the Dodgers. Mostly -- though not all -- are young, considered immense prospects and talking about signing for very serious money.
It would have been cheaper for the Dodgers to have gone all Hyman Roth with Cuba than to sign multiple prospects, but that may be exactly where they are headed. The Dodgers have already had one hit (Yasiel Puig) and two apparent misses (Alex Guerrero, Erisbel Arruebarrena) in the Cuba department.
The current prize remains 19-year-old switch-hitting infielder Yoan Moncada, who is expected to sign within the next two weeks. And he figures to cost maybe eight times what it would to sign a highly regarded kid taken in the annual June draft.
It’s all speculation for now, but most reports have Moncada signing for at least $30 million. And since he’s classified as an international amateur, which comes with an overall signing cap, teams that exceed it by 15% have to pay a 100% penalty and will be unable to sign any future player for more than $300,000 over the next two signing periods, which starts on July 2.
So if you’re going to blow your international signing pool for the next two years, you might as well get as many as you can now before the next signing period begins.
Should the Dodgers sign Moncada – and there is absolutely no guarantee they will – and there’s another Cuban they’re hot for, why not sign him too? There’s been such a flood of Cuban players coming into the market, the Caribbean island’s talent pool has to be evaporating. Soon there will be a shortage of young men in Havana.
So here are a couple of other Cuban names to remember: pitcher Yadier Alvarez and second baseman Andy Ibanez. There is also second baseman Hector Olivera, who because of his age – supposedly 29 – would not count against the international cap.
The Dodgers have checked them all out. Alvarez is just 18 and something of a new emergence. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports said the Dodgers were one of several teams to watch the right-hander work out in the Dominican Republic this week, tweeting he threw in the mid-90s and comparing him to a young Ramon Martinez.
Ibanez, 21, is not rated nearly as high as Moncada. And since he’s also an infielder – and the Dodgers’ current top prospect is infielder Corey Seager – it seems less likely they would also go after Ibanez. Alvarez appears the most logical, if they’re indeed sold on him after rather brief exposure.
Of course, even signing Moncada is a crazy financial commitment to a 19-year-old. If he were in the minors right now, MLB’s Jim Callis said he would be one of its top dozen prospects, while Kiley McDaniel at Fangraphs would rate him No. 8 overall.
Throw in the penalty, and signing Moncada could cost $60 million to $80 million. Good thing the Dodgers are bigger than U.S. Steel.