The hottest name on the international market, Yoan Moncada, is about to become a very rich 19-year-old. The Dodgers are among several teams interested in the switch-hitting middle infielder, but it is still unknown as to when he can sign.
Both manager Don Mattingly and president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman were present on Monday for Moncada's private workout for the Dodgers, per Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com. The Dodgers aren't alone, with Sanchez also noting Moncada has either had or has scheduled private workouts for the Brewers, Rangers, Giants, Yankees, Red Sox and Padres.
The only hurdle to the bidding war for Moncada beginning is clearance from the United States Office of Foreign Assets Control. However, Ben Badler at Baseball America notes the process is made more complicated by additional requirements from Major League Baseball:
Moncada, though, has already met the government’s requirements to be able to begin his career. Moncada has permanent residence in Guatemala. Any Cuban national who presents documents showing permanent residence in a country outside of Cuba qualifies for OFAC’s "general license," which is not a written document. As far as OFAC is concerned, that should make him unblocked, and that’s good enough for the government to allow him to sign.
The holdup is that MLB won’t let Moncada—or any Cuban player, for that matter—use the general license any more. That wasn’t always the case. Yasiel Puig, for example, signed using the general license. It’s not clear what exactly changed, but at some point in 2012 after Puig signed in June that year, MLB no longer allowed Cuban players to sign using the general license and instead required them to apply for the specific license, which is a written document from OFAC. That goes beyond what the government requires from Cuban players to be able to begin their careers, and with some players waiting six months to receive their licenses, MLB’s policy has added a significant bottleneck for those players.
Cuban pitcher Yoan Lopez signed with the Diamondbacks, and it took him roughly six months to get the specific license from the OFAC. He applied before Moncada, per Badler, who also noted it is still uncertain how long it will take for Moncada to receive clearance. Moncada applied over four months ago, per Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports.
The current international signing period ends on June 15. For now, we wait.