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Cuban star Yoan Moncada gives Phillies opportunity to move on

More and more Cuban baseball starts could matriculate into the U.S. very soon.Getty Images

A month after the Phillies nightmarish 2014 season ended Ruben Amaro said it was likely that the Phillies would make one big splash during the off-season.

Many pundits and fans figured the Phillies would be all in on Cuban outfielder Yasmani Tomas but the Phillies and other organizations cooled on the burly slugger, who can only play left field and reportedly has more offensive limitations than advertised.

Could the Phillies surprise the baseball world by signing a much more significant Cuban than Tomas? Yoan Moncada can officially sign with any major league team, thanks to a rule change that was announced on Tuesday.

The 19-year old shortstop, who reportedly can play almost anywhere on the diamond, will be in extreme demand.

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“He would be a top-five pick if he was going to enter the draft in June,” a NL scout said. “He’s the kind of kid, who looks like he can do it all, particularly hit and hit with power.”

Moncada will not enter the draft. Instead he’ll be a very expensive free agent. But the Phillies can afford to sign Moncada and pay any additional international tariffs. The Dodgers and Yankees are front-runners but the Phillies pockets are deep and their need is great.

Can Phillies fans imagine an infield of Maikel Franco, J.P. Crawford and Moncada in 2017? “That could be an amazing core for two reasons,” a NL scout said. “Those three players could be very good major league ballplayers and two-years from now they will still be very young.”

Two years from now, Franco will be 24, Crawford, 22 and Moncada, 21. There should be considerable financial flexibility for the Phillies in 2017. Such expensive players as Ryan Howard, Cliff Lee and Carlos Ruiz will be in the rearview by then. The Phillies should be in position to augment their team with free agents by then.

“It could be the start of the Phillies next run if things go their way,” a NL scout said. “Maybe they can sign some solid players to help out.”

The first solid player they can sign to help turn it around is Moncada, who has those in the baseball industry enthralled with his ability. Will the Phillies be bold enough to battle it out with the Yanks and Dodgers?

“They did it before with Cliff Lee,” a NL scout said. “It wouldn’t shock me if the Phillies went after him. Their franchise might need Moncada more than any other franchise.”

 
 
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