San Francisco Giants

Maeda won’t be posted, but Moncada is still a possibility

The Japan Times reported something that equated to what the kids call a “bummer”, at least for those who thought Kenta Maeda would’ve been a perfect candidate to join the Giants’ starting rotation.

Hiroshima Carp ace Kenta Maeda’s chances of playing in the big leagues next season were all but erased on Thursday, when the Central League club informed him that they will not allow him to leave via the posting system.

The 26-year-old Maeda has spoken openly about his desire to play in the majors, but now appears headed to negotiations for his 2015 Carp contract before the end of the year. The right-hander, who met with team officials at Mazda Stadium on Thursday, went 11-9 with a 2.60 ERA in 2014, when Hiroshima finished third in the CL for the second straight season.

Maeda will not be eligible for unlimited free agency until after the 2017 season.

Boooooooooooo.

Oh well, he was short with a mediocre fastball anyway. Who needs ya?!?! (Probably just about every big league team after the 2017 season, unless he gets posted sooner.)

Life goes on, and when it comes to the new wave of international stars (mostly pitchers from Japan and sluggers from Cuba), the Giants are still waiting to dive into the pool. They may be sticking their toes into the water with Jung-Ho Kang as I write this, and that’d at least be interesting.

But the main prize, without a doubt, is Yoan Moncada. Alex Pavlovic seemed to think the Giants might be in on the 19-year-old SS/3B, a Cuban-born player who’s currently in Guatemala.

“By all accounts, if he were an American kid and coming up through high school here — I heard somebody say at the Winter Meetings, ‘This is a guy who’d be getting Bryce Harper level hype.’ And that doesn’t mean he’s that type of player, or that type of prospect, but the hype on him would be insane,”said Alex Pavlovic on Tuesday’s BASGcast.

“So I think that’s a very intriguing player and somebody who’s going to cost a lot. And really, it’s a risk. But if you think about it, from where (the Giants) are right now, they’re kind of playing with house money a little bit. Three titles in five years. I’m not saying you take a year off or take two years off, they wouldn’t do that. Maybe some of those resources that in past years — certainly last year — would’ve been spent on the big league roster, you can afford to kind of spread that around a little bit on a guy like Moncada. Maybe you end up with a really, really good young player that you can control.”

There’s a lot of confusion as to how much Moncada would cost (I know I was confused), and Jeff Passan had a good explanation of his unique situation, as well as what a team would be in for if they wanted to land the best amateur player in the world (according to many talent evaluators).

Major League Baseball currently is conducting its standard investigation into Moncada’s permanent residency in Guatemala and has yet to clear him. The Office of Foreign Assets Control must also unblock Moncada before he can sign with a team. Once that happens, the bidding is expected to go wild – far more wild than any since baseball implemented new rules in 2012 that were supposed to squash such exorbitant prices.

Two general managers and two other officials familiar with Moncada and Cuban baseball this week all agreed on the expected price once he hits the market: between $30 million and $40 million. While that’s close to what the similarly aged Puig ($42 million) and the Cubs’ Jorge Soler ($30 million) received, the circumstances for Moncada are entirely different than when Puig and Soler signed in 2012.

Under baseball’s current collective-bargaining agreement, international free agents under 23 years old with fewer than five years’ experience in a professional league fall under the purview of MLB’s international bonus pool. Meaning for every dollar a team goes beyond its allotted budget to sign international amateurs – the highest this season is Houston with $4.94 million – it must pay a 100 percent tax. On top of that, if a team goes 15 percent beyond its pool, it cannot spend more than $300,000 on an international amateur for the next two signing periods.

The upshot: If a team does indeed give Moncada a $30 million deal, it will cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $60 million. Should the bidding jump to $40 million, Moncada would cost $80 million – more than Abreu, Rusney Castillo, Puig, Cespedes, Soler, Alexander Guerrero, Erisbel Arruebarrena or any of the other Cuban defectors to this point.

Would the Giants spend that much money on a player who might not be ready to help the big league roster during the prime years of Madison Bumgarner and Buster Posey? Then again, if Moncada is as good as many believe, perhaps he could start at shortstop or third base on a major league roster as soon as 2016 (an even year, for those of you who keep track of such things).

The Giants seem interested in adding an international player, judging by their recent tendency to (reportedly) finish as the runner-up for players like Jose Abreu and Yasmany Tomas. Now it’s just a question of which player they’ll choose to (over)pay. If they want to make the biggest splash possible, Moncada looks like the guy.

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