More on Two Top International Prospects
Here is some interesting information on Chihiro Kaneko, the top starter in Japan’s NPB this past season. By electing to exercise his “domestic” free agent option after his 8th year of NPB service, he cannot become an “international” free agent for another four years, rather than earning that right next off-season.
Aside from the obvious unfairness of this regime to Japanese players, it probably doesn’t mean much except that Kaneko really is set on coming to MLB in 2015, as I have long suspected. It’s possible that his current team, the Orix Buffaloes, could refuse to post him, but NPB teams now routinely post their players if the players are really set on trying their luck in MLB. This is particularly true of poorly attended NPB teams like Orix, who are usually happy to get the substantial posting fee and the built-in cover that let’s them claim the player forced their hand.
Because Kaneko is a small right-hander who is already 31, there’s been very little about him in the American baseball blogosphere. However, according to yakyubaka.com, the Phillies, Red Sox and Padres have all sent scouts to look at him.
Also, if Kaneko chooses or is forced to remain in Japan, rumors are that three NPB teams including Orix are prepared to offer him between 1 billion and 2 million yen ($8.6 million to $17.3 million at current exchange rates) for three or four seasons of his services. A rumored four-year 2 billion yen offer from the Softbank Hawks sounds entirely reasonable to me, in light of the fact this is the contract the Yomuiri Giants gave Toshiya Sugiuchi three off-seasons ago.
The hype about 19-year old Cuban shortstop Yoan Moncada got a lot more compelling for me after reading this post on mlbtraderumors.com this evening. The post links to articles by Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan, mlb.com’s Jonathan Mayo and Baseball America’s Ben Badler, and all three articles say pretty much the same thing: Moncado is the real deal, comparable to Yasiel Puig and Jorge Soler when they signed their MLB contracts.
What is really telling is that multiple sources expect him to be signed for a signing bonus between $30-$40 million even though the team that signs him will have to pay a 100% fine on the signing amount because Moncada is not old or experienced enough to be considered a professional free agent. A number of teams, including the Yankees, Red Sox and Angels have already gone over their cap amounts by more than 15%, meaning they will not be able to sign any foreign amateur for more than $300,000 in the next signing year that begins next June. Thus, the team that wins the bidding war on Moncada will depend heavily on whether or not he becomes eligible to sign before June 15, 2015. The Rangers and Cubs, who couldn’t spend more than $300,000 on a foreign amateur this signing year will likely be in the mix if Moncada is not available until after June 15, 2015.
If in fact Moncada signs for more than $30 million it is almost certain that a draft will be imposed on international amateurs as soon as the owners can put it into effect.