By Keith Law | ESPN.com
Updated: November 15, 2014, 6:20 PM ET
Cuban infielder Yoan Moncada, who left the country with the
government's permission earlier this year, has been cleared by Major
League Baseball to sign as a free agent, a source confirmed Saturday.
Moncada still must be cleared by the Office of Foreign Assets Control
before he will be eligible to sign and begin his professional career.
MLB.com earlier reported Moncada's clearance.
Moncada, 19, is considered by major league scouts to be one of the
best prospects to come out of Cuba. Under the terms of the current
collective bargaining agreement between MLB and the players' union,
however, he will be treated as an amateur free agent rather than a
professional, as Yasiel Puig and Jose Abreu were.
Any major league team that signs Moncada must do so out of its July 2
budget for international free agents, and will pay a penalty of 100
percent on any amount paid to Moncada over that team's fixed budget
amount. With the bonus paid to Moncada expected to exceed $30 million,
the team that signs him would thus pay nearly $60 million in salary and
penalties and would be proscribed from signing any July 2
(international) amateur free agent for the next two years for over
The Cubs and Rangers are currently prohibited from signing any player
over that number due to exceeding their bonus pool limits in previous
years, and thus will be unable to sign Moncada unless OFAC delays his
ultimate free agency.
Moncada worked out in front of scouts from all 30 teams Nov. 12 in
Guatemala City, and is expected to travel to the United States for
private workouts with teams once he's cleared by OFAC.
A switch-hitter and a natural shortstop, he's worked out around the
infield, and is more likely to end up at second base, showing power from
the left side and above-average speed.