GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Highly-touted Cuban infielder Yoan Moncada made his choice on Monday, and signed for a record bonus for an amateur. But the 19-year-old switch hitter won't be joining the Dodgers, instead choosing the Red Sox. But just because the biggest prize got away doesn't mean the Dodgers won't be aggressive internationally. In fact, it probably means just the opposite.
Moncada signed with Boston for $31.5 million, which is less than the sticker shock estimations of $40-50 million that permeated throughout his courting process.
Not all $31.5 million is created equal, of course. For Moncada, that becomes $63 million thanks to the 100-percent overage tax for exceeding international bonus pool limits. There is also the added penalty of being unable to sign international amateurs (under 23 and with fewer than five years of professional experience) to bonuses of higher than $300,000.
"We are good at factoring in various costs, whether it's money, whether it's players you give up, whether it's sitting out two international periods, we factor in to the cost of doing business," said Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman on Thursday. "If it reaches a point — with a collection of guys or with one guy — that it makes sense even with giving that up, then we'll obviously be aggressive to do it. If the cost on top of that becomes prohibitive, we won't do it."
Whatever the Dodgers' number was for Moncada during this signing period, we can probably assume it was under $31.5 million. We do know the Dodgers didn't make an offer, as general manager Farhan Zaidi said Monday afternoon.
GM Farhan Zaidi says the Dodgers only talked in "general terms" with Moncada's agent.— J.P. Hoornstra (@jphoornstra) February 23, 2015
Farhan Zaidi on not signing Yoan Moncada: "There's a lot of talent coming July 2. The calculus of that was a big part of our equation."— Pedro Moura (@pedromoura) February 23, 2015
That final tweet matches what Zaidi said on Saturday, when asked about the Dodgers' pursuit of Moncada and other Cuban free agents.
"The later this goes on, the more tangibility there is to who is going to be in the market next July 2," Zaidi said. "It brings a more tangible opportunity cost to signing him and presumably being shut out in the subsequent signing period."
In other words, the Dodgers have been active in scouting not only the current international signing period (which ends on June 15), but the next one as well. That matches speculation seen around baseball.
Keep hearing #Dodgers waiting to July 2 to spend on international mkt and are going to be very aggressive then— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) February 23, 2015
During my July 2 research, Dodgers were rumored to have a multi-million dollar deal, which seemed weird w/Moncada rumors. Now it doesn't.— Kiley McDaniel (@kileymcd) February 23, 2015
I mentioned earlier that it seemed like LA was weighing options to spend 7/2 money now/next period & Moncada became only reason to do it now— Kiley McDaniel (@kileymcd) February 23, 2015
The Dodgers aren't opposed to exceeding their international bonus limit and incurring penalties, including the two-year individual bonus cap. Friedman bristled on Thursday when asked if his farm system could absorb not being able to sign international amateurs to bonuses of over $300,000 for two years.
"That assumes that if you are restricted to signing guys for $300,000 or less you are significantly worse," Friedman said. "That's an assumption you'd have to make, and I'm not positive that's the case."
The Dodgers just want to make it count if they do go over the limit, and that means signing even more players, adding more talent.
For instance, the Dodgers were reportedly also linked to 18-year-old right-handed pitcher Yadier Alvarez, who because of a registration requirement by MLB won't be eligible until the next signing period, starting July 2, per Ben Badler of Baseball America. Throw him onto the pile the Dodgers can pick from.
Another benefit to waiting is that the Yankees and Red Sox, arguably the Dodgers' two largest financial competitors, won't be allowed to sign players for big bonuses (over $300,000), giving the Dodgers less competition for the creme of the next crop. The Angels, Diamondbacks and Rays will also be subject to those restrictions, though the next international signing period will see the Cubs and Rangers, both limited during the current period for past signings, active and unencumbered.
But look for the Dodgers to be aggressive in the next period, putting some fire to the smoke that seems to always surround them.
"Adding depth to our system and having as many quality young players as we can is obviously a focal point," Friedman said.