Amaro: Phils among clubs interested in Moncada

Amaro: Phils among clubs interested in Moncada

PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies need to inject more youth into their system, so they have not stopped trying to trade Cole Hamels, Jonathan Papelbon and others.

Of course, there are other ways to add youth. They could take a run at Cuban free agent Yoan Moncada, who is a highly regarded 19-year-old middle infielder. The Phils have seen him play, and they like him. They already have 20-year-old shortstop J.P. Crawford in the system, so a Crawford-Moncada combination in the middle of Philadelphia's infield (many project Moncada as a second baseman) is intriguing.

"We know him well," Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said Thursday. "He's a very good prospect. He has a chance to be a very good player. He checks off a lot of the boxes, but we're not the only team that would be interested in Yoan Moncada. But that's all I can say."

There are significant penalties to consider. Moncada is under 23 and has not played five years in the Cuban professional league, so a team will pay a 100 percent penalty to sign him if it exceeds its annual international bonus allotment. The Phillies are less than $100,000 under their $3,221,800 cap for the 2014-15 international signing period, which runs from July 2, 2014, to June 15 of this year. So if the Phils were to pay Moncada a $25 million signing bonus, they essentially would pay $50 million.

There are future considerations, too. If a team exceeds its international budget by 15 percent -- a certainty with Moncada -- it is prohibited from spending more than $300,000 on any international player for the next two signing periods (2015-16 and 2016-17). In other words, if there are players similar to Moncada down the pike, Philadelphia could not engage any of them until July 2, 2017.

"It is clear that those penalties are significant," Amaro said. "That is part of the process."

It is worth noting the Phillies did not enter serious negotiations with Cuban outfielder Yasmany Tomas, who signed a $68.5 million contract with the D-backs in December. The Phils would have paid no penalties to sign Tomas because he is not under 23 and did not play fewer than five years in the Cuban league.

The Phillies still passed, expressing concerns about the price tag and Tomas' conditioning.

Knowing that, would they then enter a bidding war for Moncada? They would have to feel very confident about the player and be willing to surrender signing any talented international players over the next two-plus years.

"You can't miss on a guy that may be that significant a risk," Amaro said.

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.