Yoan Moncada has been cleared for free agency, just as soon as he gets unblocked by the U.S. Treasury Department. The Cubs had a strong presence at a workout in Guatemala on Wednesday. Since he is subject to international spending bonus pools, however, the Cubs will only have the chance to sign him if they can convince him to wait until next July. Given that the list of teams who have already exceeded their limits can sign him this year includes the Yankees, Red Sox, Angels, and Rays, I’m not holding my breath on the sales pitch that convinces him to wait for seven months before doing a deal.
And I’m fine with that. It doesn’t frustrate me at all that a generational talent 19-year old decided to leave Cuba the year after the Cubs misjudged the trade market and overspent on IFA’s. I’m completely over it.
What I’m wondering is what happens next. Rumor has it that Moncada is looking at $30-$40 million in bonus cash, and I don’t doubt that he will get it. Neither does Ben Badler. Since Moncada is subject to spending pool limits, the team that does end up paying him will also have to pay a 100% tax to MLB.
By my estimates, teams have already committed to paying over $20 million for overspending their limits during the current period. And I think that number is conservative, as I haven’t been tracking spending all that closely. By the time the period closes, MLB could very well be sitting on upwards of $60-$70 million in taxes, courtesy of the teams that decided to go all-in this year.
So… what is the Commisioner’s Office going to do with all that cash? Enter the CBA:
During the 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 signing periods, any tax proceeds generated as a result of a Club exceeding its Signing Bonus Pool will be used by the Office of the Commissioner, after considering the recommendations of the Committee, to offset the cost of international reforms. Thereafter, unless an international draft becomes operational, the Office of the Commissioner may use the tax proceeds to further the international development of baseball.
In case you were wondering, $60 million buys one hell of an awareness campaign in Latin America. The Cubs’ entire state-of-the-art facility in the Dominican Republic only cost $7 million. MLB could buy Sammy Sosa a closet full of yellow sweaters and send him to every major city south of the Rio Grande to shake hands and take some BP, and still have tens of millions leftover to build a few ballparks around the world.
Allow me to make an alternative suggestion: give Latin America the Tampa Bay Rays for a year. It’s time to give back to the Dominican Republic for all the talent they have sent our way for the last few decades, and 81 games seems like the least that we can do. Set the Rays up in Santo Domingo. Maybe mix in a few games in San Juan or Monterrey, and sit back and watch while international development is furthered!
The finances are certainly in the right neighborhood. According to Bloomberg, the Rays took in about $55 million combined in gate receipts, concessions, sponsorship, and parking in 2013. Give the team $75 million to make up for that lost revenue and start teaching our friends down south about the wonders of Las Rayas Venenosas de Santo Domingo!
And if MLB does decide to go another direction in the “Furthering Development Campaign,” the owners are going to need to see some receipts.