Yoan Moncada. Red Sox fans all over the country hear the name and instantly ears perk up. Any time a Cuban defecting $31.5 million player is signed, excitement will surely arise. All fans know that familiar thrill, some of us will jump and scream, while others will simply close our eyes and raise a fist, thanking the baseball Gods for allowing him to sign with the Red Sox. But how can any of us be sure that he’s not a bust, and who even is this man?
When Sox management passed on Cuban defectors Jorge Soler and Jose Abreu(who are currently performing above average at the major league level), the overcorrection was to sign another defector by the name of Rusney Castillo to a $72.5 million contract. At the time, this was the largest contract signed to any Cuban born player before playing a single game in an American associated professional league. Immediately, Castillo was called up to the big leagues, where in 10 games at the end of the year he showed a little promise getting 12 hits. The following year, Rusney got the start in the outfield. However, he only made it 80 games through the season before he was demoted to AAA. The reason being that he only hit .253 with 5 HR, which for an outfielder power hitter is downright horrendous. For the rest of his AAA season, he hit .282 with only 3 home runs which is about as average as it gets at the minor league level. This season, in AAA through 73 games he has hit .237 with a dismal 2 HR, further proving that the $72.5 million spent on him was the largest waste of money in Red Sox history. That being said, Rusney Castillo was the primary reason that Sox fans were so worried about the singing of Yoan Moncada. I am here to reassure fans that Moncada is the real deal, and here’s why.
Second off, I fully expect Moncada to be called up by August 31st. With the recent call up of Andrew Benintendi, it makes perfect sense to have Moncada be called up and split some time with Travis Shaw at third base to get him some experience as the Red Sox hope to make a run in the fall. Also, it’s time to call Moncada up because the Sox are looking for a spark to get them back on the winning track, and nothing shouts out energy more than a 21 year old prospect coming up and getting a few big hits. That truly could be all that it takes to put the Sox back on a winning track, and there would be no better time to do so as the playoffs rapidly approach us.
Lastly, looking forward to the future and next year, we could be looking at another young but highly talented Sox team hoping to make a run. Starting bats in the lineup could include Edwin Encarnacion, Hanley Ramirez, Pedroia, Moncada, Benintendi/Holt, Bogaerts, Betts, Bradley, and Sandy Leon behind the dish. Putting Moncada at third base will round out not only the infield, but also at a quick bat with great speed to the lineup.
All in all, Yoan Moncada could turn out to be one of the greatest signs in Red Sox history, and totally negate mistakes like Pablo Sandoval and Rusney Castillo. Plus, with both contracts running out within the next few years, the Sox will have the cap space to sign back stars like Betts, Bogaerts, and Bradley, and maybe even pursue more viable starting pitching options.
I think we are truly in for a show in the next few seasons, and like myself, I cannot wait to get that alert on my phone that Moncada was called up. But until then, all we can do is follow and anxiously await the big league debut of Benintendi tomorrow night, and Moncada hopefully in the near future.