After failing to finalize a deal for Cuban slugger Yasmany Tomas, the Phillies are now presented with another opportunity to snag a young Cuban star, after it was announced Yoan Moncada is now officially an MLB free agent.
While the Phillies aren’t listed as one of the top suitors for Moncada, the Arizona Diamondbacks weren’t considered a top suitor for Tomas until they swept in and signed him to 6-year, $68.5 million contract.
Could the Phillies be a “dark horse” in the Moncada sweepstakes? They should be.
Why should the Phillies pursue this guy? Well, for one thing he is young. At 19-years-old, Moncada could become one of the great young stars in MLB, and according to Ben Badler of Baseball America, he has skills comparable to the Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig when he was the same age.
One American League team’s talent evaluator was reported to have said that Moncada is an “exceptional talent,” and that he is adept in all five tools; power, contact, speed, fielding, and arm strength. His 6-foot, 210 pound frame and switch-hitting ability was also noted by another talent evaluator. This morning, former Phillies spanish broadcaster Rickie Ricardo was on 94.1 WIP, and discussed Moncada, comparing him to a young Alex Rodriguez.
However, the biggest reason the Phillies should pursue Moncanda is the fact that he is an infielder, primarily a second baseman. With Chase Utley’s career nearing the end, Moncanda would be the perfect successor at second base. Imagine an everyday lineup featuring an infield with Maikel Franco at third, J.P. Crawford at shortstop, and Moncada at second. That could become a reality by 2016.
Despite being 19-years-old, Moncada will not need too much time to develop in the minors, and should be able to make a contribution at the Major-League level sooner rather than later, according to experts.
Does that mean he could make a Major-League contribution some point this upcoming season?
If so, the perfect scenario for the Phillies would be for Ryan Howard to be dealt by the trade deadline, which would call for a platoon at first base that would be shared by Utley, Cody Asche, and Darin Ruf. Once promoted to the majors, Moncada could play second when Utley is at first, and could play shortstop when Asche or Ruf are at first.
Also, Ryne Sandberg will likely want to give Utley plenty of rest for his knees, which would give Moncada even more playing time at second base.
Why wouldn’t the Phillies pursue Moncada? Well, the money.
Since Moncada is under 23-years-old, and has not played in Cuba’s professional league for at least five seasons, he is subject to a dollar-for-dollar penalty for any team that goes over its international pool allotment when signing him. For a player as talented as Moncada, that is a certainty, and the 19-year-old could command a deal worth upwards of $75 million.
Acquiring a player like Moncada would be well worth the money for the Phillies. He would absolutely cut down on the rebuilding process the Phillies have begun, and could make their infield one of the best and youngest in MLB in the future.