Tuesday, February 24, 2015


There is a lot of disappointment in Yankeeland these days. Highly-touted prospect Yoan Moncada has gone to the rival Boston Red Sox, and it seems like the big fish got away. The Red Sox paid $63M for their shiny new toy. Of that, $31.5M goes to Moncada and $31.5M goes to Major League Baseball in the form of a 100% luxury tax – the penalty for exceeding the cap on teams’ spending on international signings. Is he worth it?

Okay, I am definitely in the minority on this one. Moncada has star potential, for sure. Scouting reports have him swinging a high bat speed and an even stroke, able to switch-hit, able to hit for power, with a strong throwing arm and an ability to play multiple positions. By all accounts, he is the perfect prospect. But a lot goes in to becoming a star baseball player, more than just raw talent. It takes time and a lot of work. I just wonder if he is worth risking that much money up front.

Sixty-three million dollars. That’s the price tag on this kid’s services. Yet he has not played a single game of professional baseball. In fact, he has not played a single game outside of the Cuban National Series. No one knows if he is injury-prone. No one has seen if he contributes to a good clubhouse atmosphere, or if he is a toxic element. I am not saying that any of these will happen, but any of them could happen. Those risks are intrinsic to investing in prospects.

In fact, you would be right in pointing out that these risks apply to every single high school and college ball player that every team signs or drafts. Here is the difference. The bonuses paid out to draft picks can range from $1-5M, with the highest ever being just under $7M. If one of those top picks do not pan out after a couple of years, the team’s loss is $1-5M. Not $63M.

It is as if we have forgotten about the risks of overpaying. We thought we won a war when we signed Alex Rodriguez after the Red Sox almost signed him. We roared when we outbid the Red Sox on Mark Teixeira. We outspent our competition on C.C. Sabathia’s contract. Years later, we are ready to shoot Brian Cashman for shackling us under these enormous long-term contracts for players that can no longer play at the level when they signed, and now we are ready to shoot him again for not breaking the bank on a kid we know little about, except what Baseball America tells us. Does this make sense?

Look, there is no question that it would have been great to sign him. I have no doubt that he will be a good player, maybe even a great player. However, having already been burned several times, it is understandable why the Yankees may have been a little more cautious on rolling the dice here. They were not alone – even the free-spending Dodgers walked away from Moncada. I think the fact that it was Boston makes this sting a little more. Nevertheless, if the Yankees have $63M more to spend on several young stars – not just one – I feel a little better about this.

--Ike Dimitriadis, BYB Senior Staff Writer
Twitter: @KingAgamemnon
My blog is: Shots from Murderer's Row

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