Playing with ‘Moncada money’
Just the other day, an executive told me that he expected Cuban infielder Yoan Moncada to receive a signing bonus of $40 million to $50 million – meaning that the total outlay, including a 100 percent tax, would be $80 million to $100 million.
Other executives, however, doubt the numbers will go that high. And when you do the math, a $40 million bonus does sound like a stretch for a 19-year-old player who likely will need one or two seasons in the minors. As one exec put it, "I’d say $30 million max and even that number is a big-time stretch – $20 million-ish is more realistic."
Cuban infielder Roberto Baldoquin got $8 million from the Angels this offseason, right-hander Yoan Lopez $8.25 million from the Diamondbacks. Moncada is even more highly regarded than those two, but a total outlay of $80 million would not even include his earnings as a 0-to-3 player (roughly $1.5 million) or in salary arbitration. We’re talking pure bonus and penalty, that’s it.
So, factoring in inflation, let’s say his three arbitration years are $5 million, $8 million and $12 million. Those numbers assume Moncada will be good, but if the initial investment is $80 million, he had better be good. So, then we’re talking $105 million for six years — a $17.5 million average. Practically superstar money.
Moncada would be worth that amount if he indeed proved to be a combination of Robinson Cano and Mike Trout offensively, as some scouts predict. But if you drop the numbers to say, a $20 million bonus and $40 million total outlay, the numbers start to look more reasonable. At that level, a team would pay about $65 million for six years, based upon the arbitration numbers above.
Maybe Moncada gets a bonus of $40 million to $50 million, maybe he doesn’t — the winning bidder will pay for his upside, and the laws of supply and demand will dictate the final numbers. But those estimates might be overstated, even if you assume that his time in the minors is minimal. Moncada isn’t a superstar – yet.