Are they being sneaky little devils? Lying hidden in the woods, ready to pounce unexpectedly? Just when everyone has exhaled and got all relaxed, set to SHOCK THE WORLD!
OK, possibly a slight exaggeration. It’s not like the Dodgers haven’t been very busy this off-season. But the only splashy moves, the kind new ownership sort of taught us to expect, were the ones that sent superstars Matt Kemp and Hanley Ramirez out of town.
There has been no headline-grabbing acquisition. No inbound superstar. Nothing in itself to excite the Dodgers’ masses.
Only now you have to wonder if the Dodgers might yet exercise their financial muscle. One option, as examined Tuesday, would be a late run at free agent pitcher James Shields, whose price tag has seemingly plummeted.
But another bold and exciting move would be to sign the latest Cuban phenom, Yoan Moncada, the young infielder that Major League Baseball ruled eligible Tuesday to sign with any team.
And if the Dodgers really remain intent on building the system depth and willing to spend to do it, they need to sign him.
That’s what several team executives think is going to happen, according to ESPN’s Buster Olney. The Dodgers will emerge from a relative financial slumber – though, of course, they still have a record payroll – and win Moncada.
He will not come cheaply. Anything but. Whatever is spent to sign him will have to be doubled by a 100% tax. So should he sign for $40 million, that’s an $80-million overall price tag. Not that it’s ever difficult for me to spend other people’s money.
Moncada is only 19, so that’s plenty of risk. Plus, the Dodgers have not had much luck in signing their last two Cuban shortstops, spending a combined $53 million to sign Alex Guerrero and Erisbel Arruebarrena. And it turned out Guerrero can’t field and Arruebarrena can’t hit.
Moncada supposedly has the talent to rival Yasiel Puig, and it's believed he could also play second or third. And since it remains uncertain if the Dodgers’ most prized prospect, Corey Seager, will continue at shortstop or be moved to third, that perceived versatility down the road is extremely valuable.
The Moncada pursuit will be telling. If the Dodgers are still willing to spend big to revamp their system and set themselves up for the future, they have to go hard for him. But if they truly believe the major overhaul is done and they can back off the big-money purchases that helped bring fan belief back to a battered franchise, then they’ll take a pass.
Ready to be shocked?