Is Drew Smyly’s Frustration with Yoan Moncada’s Contract Justified?

Yoan Moncada is a 19-year-old Cuban prospect who just signed a $30 million deal with the Boston Red Sox. Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Drew Smyly was not happy about the Yoan Moncada deal. Smyly took to twitter to voice his opinion on the contract.

Does he have a point about that? Somewhat, but his opinion came off a little more harsh than it was meant to be. There might be more to his opinion than it not being right that a 19-year-old Cuban prospect gets $30 million while the other top American prospects are starving (compared to Moncada) in the minor leagues. It also must be noted that Moncada, more than likely, is going to spend at least one year in the minor leagues. Is there something wrong with the draft and contract structuring system for players coming out of high school and college? Well, for starters, American players, are not on the same level as their age group in some Caribbean countries, and some South American countries. Venezuela, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and Cuba, routinely produce some of baseball’s most talented players. As of recent, Venezuela, Dominican Republic, and Cuba have been the big three in terms of baseball’s best.

He does have a point though, everyone should have to go through the same process, right? The draft makes it easy for organizations to own the rights to a player’s contract for a long time, in fact, too long. MLB players are only eligible for free agency after six years of service time, and that’s only if they make it to the MLB level. There have been early round picks that are career minor league players, who spend 10 seasons in Triple-A only to get called up once. The difference between being drafted number one overall in the NBA and the MLB is that it may take someone years to get called up to the MLB, whereas the NBA player will more than likely be a starter instantly. The main problem Smyly had, is that MLB teams own the rights to the contracts of drafted players until they have three years in the league before they’re even eligible for arbitration. Much of the time foreign players are free agents before they even touch American soil.

Smyly makes a good point, but the problem with it, is that American players coming up through high school aren’t seeing the 95mph heaters from the pitchers they’re facing, and if they are, it’s VERY rare. They are seeing 80mph fastballs, and players just learning how to hit for power, if they’ve even reached that point yet. These players from the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, and Cuba are being trained at baseball academies or are playing professionally in their respective countries, they don’t have traditional high school baseball, or traditional college baseball. It’s not the MLB’s fault that some American players just aren’t on the same level as foreign prospects at such a young age. That’s not to say that some of the best players in baseball aren’t American. But in terms of talent, the number of foreign players from those four or five countries, outnumber the talent of American players, by a lot.

The way the draft is structured won’t let American players get paid right off the bat, because the system won’t allow them to. There is no American prospect that can hit the ball the way Moncada does, every MLB scout in America knows that. Which is why he got the contract that he did, because history repeats itself. Not that upbringing should be a basis of how a player is paid, but there are a number of top-tier MLB players signing long-term inexpensive deals, but still having top-tier production. Also, a large number of these players only have baseball in their lives, and are living in impoverished parts of these countries, all while trying to support an entire family. That’s just simply not the case in America, for the most part.

So although Drew Smyly has a point about the system not being fair for American players, and that players from the islands & South America as well as the USA are still amateurs both groups aren’t comparable. That’s also not to say that, the next Mike Trout isn’t out there, but when general managers see 18-year-old Mike Trout coming out of high school, and 18-year-old Yasiel Puig coming from Cuba where he played professionally, the choice is a lot easier than it seems.

20 Responses

  1. terry

    You are making a bogus argument.

    The point is that while American players are held to the standard of the draft, foreign players are held to a different standard in a different draft which benefits foreign players financially.

    Are you arguing that Moncada or Puig have more talent than Trout?

    By any measure and metric, Mike Trout is the superior player, in fact the best, in baseball in all 3-phases of the game.

    Yet he was paid a paltry sum of $1 million dollars in his contract after the draft.

    Why should American players agree to have their wages docked at the expense of foreign players with inferior production? If Trout was given $1 million dollars when he was 19 years old, and an equally touted prospect, why is Moncada getting $30+ million?

    Having two different draft systems with double-standards was not what baseball players like Drew Smyly had in mind, and you disingenuously try to tap-dance around his rather obvious and salient point.

    Your dishonesty is galling.

    Reply
    • Steve Benko

      Never said Puig or Moncada were better than Trout. Also am aware he’s far superior to both players… I’m sorry you feel that way, but I appreciate the honesty, and feedback. Thanks for reading.

      Reply
      • kcmark

        The real issue is competitive balance. Is it a coincidence that most of the international players go to large market teams? At a minimum, teams that sign an international free agent should lose a draft pick, just like they do when they sign a MLB free agent.

      • Fernandito Andujar

        This is just nonsense. International draft budgets are set just like the amatuer draft with the teams doing worse having the biggest pools. So Astros had big amateur pools and big draft pools, they get chances at competitive balance picks too, plus teams like Red Sox and Yankees have to pay a 50% tax (and be out of the market for two years)…..all that and you want to take a draft pick too? No one objected when the Rangers, Jays and Cubs went over their international pools.

        Big league players sold out the HS, college and international kids. They agreed to allow budgets to be placed there because they didn’t care about those kids since they were not union members. MLB owners would love to lower the costs in the international area. Putting the international players in the same draft won’t mean more money for American kids….unless MLB agrees to incease the draft pool amounts substantially for teams and or base it on more than just ten rounds of slot values.

  2. Dracir Boccheciamp

    Puerto Rican players also have to go to the Draft. As matter of fact just like the USA and Canada. Carlos Correa was the 1rst draft pick by Houston 2 years ago. he is percived as ahead of Moncada in all tools. But because of the drat he only got a 4MIo bonus compared to 31 MIO of Moncada. A world wide draft is needed. Smyly is right

    Reply
    • Steve Benko

      The draft hurt Puerto Rico’s talent, Pudge signed at 16, with the Rangers. Alomar signed at 17 with the Padres. I agree with Smyly, but it’s not about implementing rules to the world, to benefit the U.S. Its about the U.S. catching up to the world. How can you gauge a high school player who has played who’s played against other high school kids in america? I have a friend who is from Puerto Rico and he knows guys who are in a league in PR, that goes to DR, to the U.S., other teams from other countries come to PR to play them, they get to test their abilities against the very best talent in essentially the world. A draft doesn’t necessarily fix that.

      Reply
  3. JT

    Puerto Ricans gonto the same draft, since they are Americans… also, their high school system is the same as US.

    Reply
  4. Ryan

    exceltthe college players are all 3-4 years older than most of the international free agents, so it’s not a fair argument. He’s comparing players of the same age. If you had two players of equal talent,one was 18 from Cuba and the other a 23 year old college draft pick which would you choose? That’s the point being made here, that’s these players are better younger whereas the American players (who may end up better) need more years to develop still.

    Reply
    • Steve Benko

      Ryan, that is my point exactly. Thank you for reading.

      Reply
    • Jeffrey Toman

      Mocada will be 20 in May. Stanton was mashing mlb pitching at 20. Harper was an all star at 19. Bumgardner was in the starting rotation at 19. Trout was the map at 20. All these players were subject to the draft and the draft limitations. Mocada will be in the minors at 20. Stating that Cuban and other international free agents are better players at a younger age is ludicrous.

      Reply
  5. nylsjd

    This article is off base on so many levels. Smyly is 100% correct. The author needs a lesson in baseball, as well. 18-year-old Trout was infinitely better than 19-year-old Moncada and 18-year-old Puig – as in they’re not even comparable. Trout nearly won an MVP In his age 20 season. Moncada won’t even be in the bigs at that point. Moncada is not Trout as a prospect. What this author should’ve done is compare Moncada to Harper. Harper was arguably the most advanced prospect anyone has ever seen. If Moncada was worth $63M (after tax) to the Red Sox, teams would’ve spent at least $100M on a talent like Harper if we were afforded the same opportunity as Moncada. That is why Smyly’s point is spot on.

    Reply
  6. nylsjd

    This article is off base on so many levels. Smyly is 100% correct. The author needs a lesson in baseball, as well. 18-year-old Trout was infinitely better than 19-year-old Moncada and 18-year-old Puig – as in they’re not even comparable. Trout nearly won an MVP In his age 20 season. Moncada won’t even be in the bigs at that point. Moncada is not Trout as a prospect. What this author should’ve done is compare Moncada to Harper. Harper was arguably the most advanced prospect anyone has ever seen. If Moncada was worth $63M (after tax) to the Red Sox, teams would’ve spent at least $100M on a talent like Harper if we were afforded the same opportunity as Moncada. That is why Smyly’s point is spot on.

    Reply
    • Steve Benko

      I don’t agree that Smyly is 100% correct, but I can get behind draft reform being needed. Thank you for reading.

      Reply
  7. Steve Benko

    Never said Moncada deserves $30m “because he take care of his entire family and Americans don’t” I said “not that upbringing should be a basis of how a player is paid, but there
    are a number of top-tier MLB players signing long-term inexpensive
    deals,” to be exact, the idea behind international players entering an American draft wouldn’t make sense. Thank you for reading, and thank you for feedback.

    Reply
  8. Steve Benko

    Sure let American players be exposed to free agency, either do away with the draft completely, or change it to accommodate International players. Simply plucking international players out and putting them in an American draft wouldn’t work, reform is needed. My argument is, someone who is hitting .400 from the Southside of Chicago might be looked over if they’re in competition with someone who is playing professionally in a Cuban league also hitting .400 with similar abilities, but has played against better competition? Thank you for reading, and thank you for the feedback.

    Reply
  9. jack burgoyne

    IMO it has to be an Int draft. Otherwise, the high revenue teams like the NYY, LAD, & RS will be nabbing all the top FAs

    Reply
  10. Jos. Sage

    Baseball makes millions each year, has produced billions for owners who also receive government subsidies, pays no taxes, and runs a slavery-like draft system that does not allow players drafted access to a free market for their services. The huge TV contracts coming on line will produce even further windfalls. It’s time for clubs to pay taxes, operate under the budget concerns of the revenue produced. This will produce an advantage for some of the bigger market clubs but that should be remedied by salary caps and/or revenue sharing. With that in place clubs would be limited financially, prices would be fair for all the talent competing for a limited amount of revenue and there would be interesting and competitive play based on good scouting, planning, managing and execution rather than the system today that allows some teams to grossly outspend others.

    Reply
    • Steve Benko

      I think you raise a very interesting point, especially in terms of draft system and lack of free-market. Do you believe there should be a draft? I don’t know how much a salary cap would change things, it wouldn’t create more parity, the big markets are going to attract top talent anyway, I’d say.

      Reply
  11. concernedcitizen20099

    Complete baloney..

    International players should all be in
    an International baseball draft with teams in the bottom of the standings picking first.

    The present “Non system” is “fixed”
    to favor high revenue ballclubs..
    (like the Yankees, Red Sox etc).

    Let the International players earn their way to the big leagues and earn their contracts just like American born players.

    If their skills are advanced, then fast track them to the majors…
    But gowing International players a complete end around the American players draf for substantially more money
    makes a complete mockery of the process

    And if not corrected, could be the basis
    for the next baseball strike and shutdown..

    Reply

Leave a Reply