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Milwaukee Brewers Come Up Short on Moncada

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The Boston Red Sox have reportedly landed 19 year-old infielder and Cuban free-agent prospect Yoan Moncada, according to ESPN reports.  The deal reportedly includes a signing bonus of $31.5 million that will cost the Red Sox twice this amount.  Because they exceeded their international signing bonus pool, the Red Sox will have to pay 100% luxury tax on the deal, making the entire transaction worth $63 million.

The Red Sox, Yankees, and Brewers were reportedly the three finalists in the Moncada lottery.  The Brewers reportedly offered Moncada a signing bonus between $12 and $15 million and GM Doug Melvin believes that the Brewers were the first team to make an offer to the Cuban prospect.  The Brewers reportedly made their offer to Moncada with the caveat of a 72 hour deadline for the young Cuban to make a decision. Given that the Brewers reported offer was less than half of what Moncada ended up eventually getting and that there was no negotiating that took place, it is fair to question how truly sincere their efforts to sign the young Cuban were. However, given their previous reputation of not pursuing any international free agents, the fact that they were interested in Moncada at any price is at least encouraging.

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The Dodgers also reportedly offered Moncada a large signing bonus, estimated near $35 million, but a part of the deal was that Moncada had to wait until the new signing period of July 2, to accept the offer.  The Yankees reportedly wanted to sign Moncada very badly as well, but Steinbrenner refused to go above a $27 million signing bonus.

There is no doubt that since owner Mark Attanasio has taken ownership of the Brewers, the culture in Milwaukee has shifted towards a winning atmosphere.  With big named pickups in the past such as C.C. Sabathia and Zack Greinke, as well as record a team record bonus for Gilbert Lara, the Brewers’ current owner seems much more willing to open up his pocketbook.

Now that the Brewers missed on Moncada, it will be interesting to see what other players the Brewers will try and go after.  One of the big names on the market is Cuban infielder Hector Olivera, who isn’t subject to bonus pools given his age and lengthy career.  In ten seasons playing for Santiago de Cuba, Olivera has splits of .323/.407/.505, in 2800 at bats.  He has split time between first and second base, and can play third base as well. He could be an interesting target for the Brewers moving forward.

According to this Mike Axisa report, the Diamondbacks, Cubs, Rays, Rangers, Angels, Yankees, and Red Sox have all gone over their international bonus pool allotments and will be unable to sign any player for over a $300k bonus during the next signing period. With those seven franchises on the sidelines for the big name prospects come next signing period, we could see the Brewers make a huge run at some significant international talent against with a significantly less competition on the market.

While the Milwaukee Brewers came up short on the Yoan Moncada sweepstakes, it is very encouraging to see that they are willing to pay a high price for a high talent.  It will be very intriguing to see who the Brewers will pursue next as the next wave of international talent progresses.  I am elated to see the Brewers go after a high profile prospect like Moncada, and look forward to the Brewers competing against the heavy hitters in the future.

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