Dodgers miss out on Yoan Moncada, possibly to spend big on July 2

Well, this was quite the bummer for most Dodger (and Yankee) fans to wake up to this morning.

We’ve spent a lot of time looking at Yoan Moncada here, and I won’t lie in saying I’m disappointed he isn’t going to be a Dodger. It’s the first move (or lack thereof) I really don’t agree with concerning the new front office.

Moncada landed a $31.5 million bonus. When initial reports had Moncada pegged for $30 million, it’s surprising he went for only that amount. I was OK with going to $50 million, and I’m utterly shocked he didn’t get at least $40 million. The Yankees were second in the $25-27 million and the consensus among MLB executives is the Padres were in third place. The Dodgers — once seen as the favorites — passed on investing $63 million ($31.5 million bonus, $31.5 million in penalties) on a 19-year-old who has been compared (probably lazily) to Robinson Cano and Yasiel Puig. But, as usual, the new front office is smarter than you or I am, and there is a reason behind its passing on Moncada.

But first, this came out as I was writing this post:

That’s interesting, to say the least. I’m not sure how ethical it is, but it would have been a great boon for the Dodgers, if it had happened. I understand why Moncada didn’t want to wait, and it’s just $3.5 million less than he got from Boston. This “attempt,” we’ll call it, shows the Dodgers have big plans for the next signing period, possibly concerning one of the players mentioned in this article:

Whatever the spelling, that is Yadier Alvarez, the 18-year-old who opened some eyes at the final Hector Olivera showcase (more on him shortly). It’s entirely possible the Dodgers — who appear to have the most interest in him — really want Alvarez. If that’s the case, they wouldn’t be able to sign both Moncada and Alvarez, as they would have been limited to signing any bonus pool-eligible prospect to no more than $300,000. From the Baseball America article:

“A few years ago, Major League Baseball began a registration system for international amateur players. Any player born after Sept. 1, 1995 must be officially registered with the commissioner’s office to be able to sign. Since Gutierrez, a 19-year-old born Sept. 18, 1995, and Alvares, an 18-year-old born March 7, 1996, are not registered, they are ineligible to sign during the current 2014-15 international signing period. For Gutierrez and Alvares to be eligible to sign during the upcoming 2015-16 international signing period, which begins on July 2, they must be registered by May 15.”

Before, it was assumed Alvarez could sign before June 15 (end of the 2014-15 international signing period) if he so desired. That is obviously not the case.

Then there are these:

This makes a lot of sense, especially if the Dodgers are really intrigued by Alvarez and/or Vladimir Gutierrez. While the Cubs are known big-time players on the international front, the Dodgers would only really have to contend with them for international talent.

And then there’s this:

While Moncada is the best player available, the front office thought it was worth passing on him for the opportunity to possibly sign Alvarez, Gutierrez and other young, international prospects. Kiley McDaniel of FanGraphs said in a chat a 10 days ago the Dodgers were already in on a top July 2 prospect. So, this tweet above could be in reference to some more of the top Cuban prospects who have yet to defect/been allowed to pursue an MLB career and Venezuelan prospects — most of whom have yet to agree (under the table) to deals with teams for the 2015-16 July 2 signing period. Most of the Dominican prospects are already locked up (well, as locked up as one can be with a handshake agreement) with other teams for the next signing period.

And McDaniel backed up his statement:

That player is not yet known, but once he is, we’ll get as much information on him as possible.

Then there’s Olivera, a player the Dodgers have scouted extensively and seem to really, really like. He still hasn’t been cleared by MLB, but it’s really a matter of days at this point until that happens. Once it does, he’s expected to sign with a team quickly. Last week, I looked at the possibility of the Dodgers landing both Moncada and Olivera. Obviously, Moncada is going elsewhere, and I wasn’t thrilled with the reported $70 million price tag.

“A $70 million price tag is insane. The Yankees got Chase Headley for $52 million, and he’s a proven player compared to Olivera. Olivera has a chance to be better with the bat, but Headley is an elite defensive third baseman. As for Pablo Sandoval, yes he just got $95 million to play third base for the Red Sox, but there are a couple factors at play:

  1. He’s younger than Olivera
  2. He has a proven track record in Major League Baseball

There are questions about Olivera’s alleged age — even the 29-year-old number has some folks questioning it. McDaniel said in the FanGraphs’ podcast on Friday that Olivera could land a larger deal than Yasmany Tomas or Rusney Castillo if he were in the 24-to-27-year-old range. Olivera has no MLB track record and has a significant injury history.”

Then again, these are some of the same guys who said Moncada was going to land a $40-50 million bonus, so I’d be surprised if Olivera actually gets a $70 million deal. When I first wrote about Olivera, I wasn’t overly impressed with his skill set. Granted, that was before his final showcase — the one in which Andrew Friedman and Josh Byrnes were in attendance.

Olivera, 29 (allegedly), is not subject to the international signing rules. Any contract he signs will be a major-league deal. He can help the Dodgers this year. There is no long-term solution at third base, as I believe Corey Seager will be a shortstop for the first 3-5 years of his MLB career. Juan Uribe, 36 in a month, has averaged 118 games in the last two seasons. His age and injury history suggest if he were to hit that mark, it would be optimistic. That’s where Olivera comes in. He can fill in at third base when Uribe needs day(s) off and/or is on the disabled list. Olivera has much more present value than Moncada does, and that could be a factor in the Dodgers’ potential pursuit of him. This also means the Dodgers could look to extend Howie Kendrick, whose skill set doesn’t figure to decline much with age.

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Yes, it’s disappointing Moncada isn’t going to be a Dodger anytime soon. But, the front office has a plan and is always ahead of the game. It feels the potential to land more players who might not be as good as Moncada (but are still solid prospects) outweighs using the one chance they have to go over their bonus pool. If they had landed Yoan Lopez (who signed for $8.25 million with the Diamondbacks), then Moncada would likely be a Dodger. It’s about, as stated above, opportunity cost. While I still think Moncada would have been the way to go, it’s hard to really fault the front office for passing on Moncada for the price and the potential for next signing period.

Olivera and Alvarez (and possibly more) is a pretty nice consolation prize to missing out on Moncada. It isn’t a sure thing, but it’s a lot more possible now than it was three hours ago.

About Dustin Nosler

Dustin Nosler

Dustin Nosler began writing about the Dodgers in July 2009 at his blog, Feelin’ Kinda Blue. He co-hosts a weekly podcast with Jared Massey called Dugout Blues. He is a contributor/editor at The Hardball Times. He graduated from California State University, Sacramento, with his bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in digital media. While at CSUS, he worked for the student-run newspaper The State Hornet for three years, culminating with a 1-year term as editor-in-chief. He resides in Stockton, Calif., and has yet to be shot.