MLB Trade Rumors came out with their predictions on where the Top 50 free agents will land this offseason over the weekend. Of the top 50 the Cincinnati Reds are mentioned as possibilities on a few guys, mostly shortstops and corner outfielders. The only Top 50 player that they show the Reds as signing though is one that I’ve seen brought up several other places as well: Nori Aoki.
He would certainly fill a need as a corner outfielder who could take over in left field. He’s a good on-base percentage guy with a .355, .356 and .349 mark each of the last three seasons. He will be 33-years-old next season and will take more than a one-year contract to sign. Does that make sense for the Reds to sign him to a multi-year deal with guys like Jesse Winker, Yorman Rodriguez and Kyle Waldrop all in Double-A? He certainly would be a welcome addition to the offense which can use all of the on-base percentage it can get.
Other players they claim the Reds would be interested in include shortstops Jed Lowrie and Stephen Drew as well as outfielders Nick Markakis and Alex Rios.
One rather interesting thing that came out the next day was that Yoan Moncada established residency in Gautemala and will hold an open showcase next week for MLB teams. Moncada defected from Cuba and is expected to sign for a good chunk of change. He supposedly has more upside than the recent Cuban signees. The difference between Moncada and the other recent Cuban players is that Moncada is just 19 and thus anything he signs for counts against a teams international signing pool. Any team that signs him is going to go over their bonus pool if they aren’t already over it.
Moncada is an infielder who has experience at both shortstop and third base. The Reds certainly could use a middle infielder but at 19-years-old he may still be several years from the Major Leagues. Currently Moncada is not able to sign and it is unknown how long it will be until he is eligible to sign. He must be approved by the governments first. If he signs before June 15th of 2015 he counts towards the current bonus pool. That would eliminate the Rangers and Rays from signing him. If he signs after June 15th then he counts towards the 2015 bonus pool and the Yankees will be ineligible to sign him.
Baseball America had an article up on him in August with some information if you want to check that out.
How good is Moncada? He has more upside than Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo, who just reached a $72.5 million deal with the Red Sox. He’s better than Cuban outfielder Yasmany Tomas, who’s in the Dominican Republic but is still likely several months away from free agency. If Moncada were eligible for the 2015 draft, he would be in the mix to be the No. 1 overall pick. Gourriel and Despaigne would be safer bets, but there’s no player in Cuba with Moncada’s combination of youth, tools and hitting ability.
There is a lot of upside with the teenager. He could be a steal if a team can acquire him for under $30M, but that would also eliminate them from an big signings in the next signing period.