Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports estimates the Dodgers will have a major league high payroll of $262.6 million next season, so the new management team isn’t suddenly operating with short purse strings.
But they’ve managed to inflate the team payroll without signing a single significant free agent, unless you insist on counting the $48 million they gave Brandon McCarthy. Of course, if you’re paying more than $50 million for players (Matt Kemp, Dan Haren, Brian Wilson) no longer on the team, the total does tend to rise.
Still, that doesn’t mean the Dodgers won't make a big winter signing, and I’m not talking about Max Scherzer, either.
Are you ready for the next great Cuban prospect?
His name is Yoan Moncada, a switch-hitting infielder whose tools have been compared to Puig. And he’s all of 19.
Dodgers General Manager Farhan Zaidi told MLB Network Radio the Dodgers were very interested in the young Cuban, and announced it almost with a certain bravado.
“Moncada, we've scouted extensively,” Zaidi said.. “We have the checkbook. Young elite talent in baseball is the most valuable asset to have. To the extent that our evaluation of him matches or exceeds where the market goes, we'll definitely be players for him.”
Estimates on what it will take to sign Moncada are already in the $30-40 million range. The Red Sox and Yankees are also supposedly interested, so this is a big boy’s game.
It’s an area that new President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman and Zaidi have shied away from to this point. No one has doubted they had the financial wherewithal to make a splashy move, they just questioned the actual interest.
The Dodgers’ record with signing Cuban prospects is of the mixed variety – Puig has shown superstar potential, while Guerrero and Arruebarrena have yet to make an impact.
“We're doing all the homework we can,” said Zaidi. “With this type of investment, you have to evaluate the talent and the person, understanding the cultural adjustment they have to make. It's all part of the evaluation we have to make. It'll probably be one of those investments where you don't want to leave any stone unturned.”
Moncada is listed at 6 feet and 210 pounds. He has power from both sides, can run and scouts who have seen his workouts think he could play almost any position but shortstop.
Because he’s under 22 and subject to baseball’s new international signing rules, he’ll get whatever he agrees to as a minor league signing bonus. Then the club will have to pay almost an equal amount in a penalty for exceeding its international bonus pool.
So Moncada is going to prove costly, all for a young player with a somewhat limited playing resume. Still, it’s the kind of signing the Dodgers’ new owners would have been chasing down before. And may yet.