It’s the free agent that everyone is talking about. With Major League Baseball recently announcing that Yoan Moncada is now a free agent, everyone is lining up to try and acquire the 19-year-old shortstop from Cuba.
According to Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com, Moncada has had private workouts with several big market teams like the Yankees, Red Sox, and Dodgers, all of which are trying to sign him before July 2nd. The reason for that is because if Moncada is still a free agent then, those teams can sign him because they have already gone over their international spending limits.
So, with all the hype around Moncada, why haven’t we heard the Washington Nationals name in the mix for this kind of player, especially with all the success that Cuban players such as Yoenis Cespedes, Yasiel Puig, and Jose Abreu have had in the big leagues?
For one, I think the Nationals have some good depth coming at those infield positions in the minor leagues. Moncada would likely start in high-A ball when a team signs him.
As I talked about in January, the Nationals have a quality second base prospect they got from the Rangers in Chris Bostick that will be getting significant playing time in double-A with Harrisburg. Last season, Bostick hit .251 with 11 home runs and 62 RBI’s in high-A ball.
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However, one of the more intriguing factors if Moncada signed in the NationÃ¢Â€Â™s Capital would be what the team would do with Wilmer Difo. Difo, a 22-year old from the Dominican Republic, hit .315 in low-A Hagerstown last season with 14 home runs and 90 RBI’™s. He did play six games in Potomac last season, which would make him the favorite to start the season with the high-A ballclub.
One of the things that is a plus for Difo is that he had position versatility. In 2014, he played 70 games at shortstop and 66 games at second base. Difo’s bat was red hot as the season concluded, as shown in his .369 batting average in the month of August. Plus, he can hit lefties (.324) as well as righties (.311). It will be interesting to see what DIfo can do at more of an advanced level.
With Trea Turner coming to the Nationals organization in the middle of June, it remains to be seen where the fit for Moncada would be.
While Washington does have the international money to sign this premier free agent and you can never count out Mike Rizzo on anything, the Nationals should sit back on this one while they await how their other infielders will work out in the minor leagues. Plus, as the big market teams will have to sit out the next couple of periods, maybe Rizzo can find the next Moncada a couple of years down the road.