Cubs Jan. 21 Notebook

Cubs are going after 19-year-old Cuban shortstop Yoan Moncada but are currently at a disadvantage. Wednesday’s highlights from the Winter League playoffs.

Moncada Mania
Ben Balder of Baseball America has an informative piece about Cuban shortstop Yoan Moncada and the economics to sign him. Yes, the Cubs are interested in the 19-year-old shortstop and per Balder piece, are one of the few teams with the financials to get a deal done. Both Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have refused to answer specific questions about Moncada since he hasn’t been cleared to sign. And before anyone inks the teenager, he must receive a MLB-required license from the Office of Foreign Assets Control. As you are likely aware, the Cubs cannot sign any players that fall under the international amateur rules for over $250,000 until July 2 because they exceeded their cap in 2013, inking Eloy Jimenez, Gleyber Torres, Jen-Ho Tseng and others. Even if the OFAC clears Moncada before the June 15 signing deadline, he could still wait until July 2 to sign with Cubs.

Many think the Yankees have the inside track since they have already blown past their international cap for 2014 and conducted a private workout. The Red Sox and Dodgers are also in the mix along with Rays, Brewers, Rangers, Giants, Padres and Phillies. But don’t count out Theo and the Cubs, who have a good history of signing Cuban ball players including Jorge Soler, Gerardo Concepcion, Armando Rivero, Rubi Silva, and Yasiel Balaguert. Moncada is breaking ground as he’s the first young Cuban superstar to test the market since the new rules went in place—Soler signed days before rules were enacted. When you hear the front office talk about payroll flexibility, this is a perfect example. As rich as the Yankees and Dodgers are, they have limits, including big payrolls, and while you would assume they have the funds to outbid everyone and pay the overage tax, they may not have it to fund the deal........Moncada wasn’t the only Cuban in the news as Baseball America reported CF Guillermo Heredia has left Cuba to become a big league ball player. The 23-year-old was a teammate of Jorge Soler on the Cuban Junior National team, and because he’s played five years in Cuba’s top league, is exempt from the international bonus pools.

Hot Stove News
After signing Colby Rasmus, the Astros designated C Carlos Corporan for assignment and have now traded the backstop to the Rangers for mino rleague pitcher Akeem Bostick. Since the Rangers were in the market for a catcher, some had speculated the Cubs would deal Wellington Castillo to Texas. Both Epstein and Hoyer said recently that they weren’t adverse to having three catchers on the opening day roster because of the versatility of roster.......The Brewers have signed former Cubs prospect Dontrelle Willis to a minor league deal with an invite to spring training. Willis was the Cubs 8th round pick in 2000 and was traded to Florida in 2002 in the deal fort Mat Clement. The Cubs signed Willis to minor league deal in 2013 but hurt his arm in spring training and was released......Willis wasn’t the only former Cubs pitcher agreeing to a deal. Right-hander Jason Marquis (2007-08) signed a minor-league deal with the Reds with an invite to big league camp.

Venezuelan Winter League
Aragua beat Zulia 6-1 while La Guaira defeated Caribes 3-1. Magallanes and caribes have already clinched a spot in the finals.......Rubi Silva was 0-for-3 with a walk while Willson Contreras played first and went 0-for-4.

Dominican Winter League
Gigantes won 5-1 for its third straight victory over Estrellas to take 3-2 lead in the best-of-nine series. Junior Lake provided the only run of the game for the Stars, a towering solo homer in the fifth. Lake also walked in four trips to the plate.

Mexican Pacific Winter League
Culiacan knocked out 15 hits and won the opening game of the Mexican League final beating Jalisco 11-8. Former Cubs outfielder Dave Sappelt swatted a two-run homer and finished 2-for-4 with a pair or runs and a walk in the win.

Puerto Rican Winter League
A bases loaded walk in the bottom of the 14th gave Santurce a 3-2 win over Mayaguez in Game 2 of the series, now tied at 1-1. Javier Baez went 0-for-5 with three strikeouts and an intentional walk. He also made an error at short.


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