Nothing like a mid-February Yankees, Red Sox bidding war (thank you Yoan Moncada)

Rob Bradford
February 12, 2015 - 7:05 am
It appears as though Yoan Moncada isn't going to wait around, making the middle of next week potentially a semi-pivotal time for the future of the American League East. It's also the latest head-to-head battle between the Red Sox and Yankees. In case you weren't up to date on Moncada, he is a soon-to-be 20-year-old shortstop from Cuba who has recently been designated as a free agent. Over the coming days, teams will extend offers (signing bonuses) for Moncada's services, with the man handling the player's negotiations, David Hastings, telling ESPN they were hoping to reach a decision by Feb. 23. The Moncada situation is somewhat complex, with teams expecting to potentially allocate in the vicinity of $30 million for the right to sign the youngster. For some teams, such as the Red Sox and Yankees, they will have to match whatever signing bonus they commit to in a payment to Major League Baseball since they already went over allocated international signing pool. (For the Red Sox that was just under $2 million and was crossed upon signing highly-touted pitchers Christopher Acosta and Anderson Espinosa.) (For a complete primer on Moncada's situation as it pertains to the Red Sox' interest, click here) The simple conversation that should be had, however, is this: the decision could be a difference-maker when it comes to the future of Red Sox/Yankees rivalry. And even if it's not, having a good ol' fashion jostling match between the two organizations is always a hoot. Sure, the offseason financial showdown for the services of Andrew Miller was interesting. But Moncada presents next-level type of drama. We all know teams are starving for impact bats, particularly if the offense can be complemented by middle-of-the-diamond defense. (And I don't know if you've heard of a guy named Derek Jeter, but he's not playing shortstop anymore for the Yankees.) Moncada? "Easily top of the first-round talent," one talent evaluator recently told There are some teams that don't view Moncada as a shortstop long-term, but even so, he represents the type of talent teams like the Red Sox and Yankees will be trying to get ahead of before the awkwardness of 30-something free agency becomes the only options. There are no guarantees, of course. You probably lost track of a kid named Michael Ynoa, but his signing bonus of $4.25 million as a 16-year-old in 2008 stood as the highest international offering of its kind for at least a few years. Last season as a 22-year-old, he made 31 relief appearances for the A's high-A affiliate in Stockton, totaling a 5.52 ERA after recovering from Tommy John surgery. He was traded with Jeff Samardzija to the White Sox this offseason. But when it comes to simply cutting a one-time check for the opportunity to develop such a player, such a scenario has to be deemed as rare for the likes of the Sox and Yanks. (Yes, there are other teams heavily involved, such as the Dodgers and Tigers.) If either the Red Sox or Yankees secure the services of Moncada, they will have officially identified a large portion of their high-end future for the next few years. As of this next signing period (July 2), neither team is allowed to go higher than a $300,000 signing bonus for the next two years thanks to blowing through their respective slots this past summer. The good news for both organizations is that their international hauls were considered by most as the best in the majors, with the 16-year-old Espinosa potentially the top pitcher available. The Yankees, meanwhile inked potentially difference-making bats in shortstop/third baseman Dermis Garcia ($3.2 million), third baseman Nelson Gomez ($2.25 million) and outfielder Juan De Leon ($2 million). Moncada, however, is very possibly a separator. Albeit, a very expensive separator. But isn't that what these sort of Red Sox vs. Yankees confrontations are supposed to be all about?