Wednesday, October 14, 2015
The Yankees could have had Jorge Soler, and three years from now, we'll be saying the same about Yoan Moncada
Posted by el duque at 7:41 AM
Cue the music! Sherman, set the Wayback for 2011!... Two Cuban free agents - Yoenis Cespedes and Soler - swim to Florida from the Fidel Castro Vintage Car Museum. Cespedes is chased by teams looking for a quick fix. The A's get him. Soler - then 19 - is viewed a Top 5 draft pick talent, a corner OF with star potential. Best thing, though, he'll only cost money. No salary cap, no luxury tax, no lost draft pick - those awful things that make I'm Not Cheap spit up his latte on the home disco dance floor.
Of course, the key phrase in that last paragraph is the one that goes "only cost money."
Theo Epstein signs Soler for $30 million over nine years - cheap, if you think in terms of Jacoby Ellsbury Monopoly cash (but let's not go there.) Prince Hal saves his coins, and Soler is a Cub. End of story.
Wait... no! Actually, after Soler signs, some Yankee websites crow that Epstein overpaid. And when Soler doesn't immediately set the minor leagues on fire, it inspires another wave of congratulatory brown-nosing! Hoo-ray for us.
So the Cubs have their corner OF for the next six years, and we get to watch Year Three of the statue of Carlos Beltran patrolling RF. It's the same Yankee Tightwad Success Story as it was for Yasiel Puig, Jose Abreu and Jose Iglesias (whom Yankee scouts said would be a utility IF.) And the biggest Tale of the Tightwad is yet to come.
In late 2014, we sat and watched Rusney Castillo and Yoan Moncada hit the market - again, without salary cap or draft pick implications. Castillo, a corner OF, signed with Boston, where he's been a roller coaster, (though the YES paid observers spent the summer congratulating the Yankee brain trust when Castillo was hurt.) It's too soon to get a bead on Castillo, but know this: If he does break out, we can kiss the AL East goodbye, because the Redsocks would have the best OF in baseball.
But it's Moncada's signing that has burnished the legend of I'm Not Cheap.
Last winter, the 19-year-old Moncada, an infielder, arrived. He was projected as a Top 5 draft talent. With no salary cap implications, practically everybody in baseball figured the Yankees would sign him. It just made so much sense. Why wouldn't they? Well, of course, Boston got him. (That's OK, the friendly Yankee websites said Boston overpaid.) Moncada started slowly - a fact that was heralded by our courtier press - and finished strong, now considered one of the best prospects in baseball. He might hit the majors late next year. And I'm Not Cheap is looking for lamps to buy with all that money he saved.
Sadly, the Yankees once led the baseball world in opening the Cuban market, when they signed Orlando Hernandez, a guy with a funny nickname - can't quite recall it. Now, we watch Cuban stars play in the real post-season, and whenever a new one hits America, the notion of I'm Not Cheap injecting himself into a bidding war is a joke, a subject that nobody even raises to the mighty Wild Card warlord. (Oh, wait! We did sign Adonis Garcia and Ronnier Mustelier, each at bargain basement prices, because there was no bidding war. Where are they now? Back in Cuba?)
So enjoy watching Soler star for the Cubs. Maybe we'll sign him when he's 36. Ahh, a new lamp anyone?