How to Value Yoan Moncada in a Dynasty League
On February 23rd, a mere four days ago, the Boston Red Sox struck what was to many an unexpected deal with the latest Cuban phenom Yoan Moncada for 31.5 million dollars. It was known that the Red Sox would be in the running for Moncada but the need was simply not there in the same way as it was for the Yankees and Dodgers. The Dodgers refused to sign him until after July 2nd but were reportedly willing to go as high as 35 million and the Yankees felt anything past 27 million was too rich for their blood.
In getting Moncada the Red Sox keep him from a division rival and in my opinion this move vaults their farm system which was lacking impact talent at the top into the top three in all of baseball. The Yankees roster on the other hand continues to get older as their last four major free agent hitter signings of Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann, Carlos Beltran, and Chase Headley have all been over 30 years old at the time of signing. The path to playing time would have been clearer had he ended up elsewhere but he is still worth chasing in all dynasty leagues.
In an excellent interview posted yesterday on Fangraphs, Kiley McDaniel sits down with Moncada and asks him some questions one of which was where he wants to play. Moncada responds by saying “Second base is my baby”, and “Robinson Cano was his favorite player”. How the Yankees didn’t sign him I will never know but with Pedroia entrenched at the position in Boston for the next seven years second base doesn’t seem like a possibility for him.
The most likely path to playing time is a move to third base displacing Pablo Sandoval after the 2017 season. I envision first baseman Mike Napoli either signing a one year deal after this season or walking and giving way to an internal option like Allen Craig for 2016. In 2017 Moncada will be turning 22 and have two full minor league seasons under his belt and the weighty Sandoval will be over 30. David Ortiz could be on his way out the door as well by that time so there will be plenty of room for lineup maneuvering.
Physically Moncada has the tools to play anywhere on the diamond other than shortstop and catcher since he is already bigger than most shortstops and has had no reps at the catcher position. With a crowded already crowded and the value of premium bats in the infield a move to third gives the Red Sox the most value. I have decided on one thing about Moncada his likely position in the big leagues will be third base.
On February 17th I finished ranking my Top 100 Dynasty League Prospects and did not include the unsigned Moncada on the list. If I were to slot him in today he would rank number ten overall and he would be the third best third base prospect behind Kris Bryant and Miguel Sano. The reason I am not willing to go higher than 10th with Moncada is because despite his success in the international tournaments he has never faced pitching as advanced as what the guys above him have seen.
When assessing Moncada purely for upside there is an argument to be made that the tools alone might be louder than any prospect not named Kris Bryant or Byron Buxton. The arm is elite, the speed is elite, the bat speed is elite, and the power should be plus. It isn’t hard for me to envision a scenario where Moncada ends up a better third baseman than the Sano and with Bryant unsure to stay at the position it makes him even more enticing.
Moncada is a solid 6ft and 210 pound switch hitter who made it to professional baseball in Cuba at just 17 years old. Over his two years in the Cuban National Series he slashed .277/.388/.380 which is impressive for a teenager but not indicative of his true power potential. He will likely start his age 20 season in A-ball and move quickly but after taking time off during the process of getting to America there will be some rust.
In 2015 dynasty league drafts I think that Moncada should be valued as the number one new prospect in the player pool over established players like Carlos Rodon and other international signees Jung-ho Kang and Yasmany Tomas. The potential is there for a third baseman who has at least 20/20 capabilities and the tools to hit over .280. Tomas and Kang have far lower ceilings and Rodon is after all just a pitcher. While little is known now about Moncada this next year should provide clarity as to what the future holds but I advise everyone to follow him closely next season and make every effort to obtain him.