Cuban amateur free agent infielder Yoan Moncada could be free to negotiate with major league teams within a few weeks, per Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports. Passan lists the Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers and Cubs among teams interested.
The final hurdle left to clear is MLB verifying Moncada's residence in Guatemala, which allows him to receive a general unblocking license from the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control rather than a specific unblocking license per current league policy.
"If OFAC confirms that the process for unblocking Cuban players is no longer to apply for a specific license, MLB will conform to the law," an MLB official told Passan.
Earlier Tuesday, Ben Badler of Baseball America reported that per United States government standards Moncada would be eligible to begin his career but that MLB was holding up the process by requiring a specific unblocking license.
"MLB is confident with the current plan we have in place regarding signing foreign born players and will abide by the guidelines of the OFAC requirements," the league told Badler in a statement.
But Passan reported MLB will meet with OFAC to resolve the issue, which could allow Moncada to freely negotiate with teams as early as two weeks from now, including this statement from the league:
"MLB is committed to following the laws of the United States, and will not change its policy requiring that Cuban Players receive a specific OFAC unblocking license until it confirms with all relevant branches of our government, including OFAC, that any new approach is consistent with the law. We hope to receive clarity on this issue as quickly as possible."
The 6'2, 200-pound switch-hitting infielder is one of the most coveted players to come out of Cuba in recent years. But unlike fellow Cuban stars Yasiel Puig, Jose Abreu, Rusney Castillo and Yasmany Tomas, Moncada won't be able to sign a major league contract. Moncada, 19, is under 23 and doesn't have the requisite five years of professional experience, and thus his signing bonus will be subject to amateur international bonus pool limits.
"If Moncada were eligible for the 2015 draft, he would be in the mix to be the No. 1 overall pick," Badler wrote in August.
Because the demand for Moncada is so high, his signing bonus is expected to be in the $30-40 million range. Because of international spending limits, nearly all of that bonus will be subject to a 100-percent overage tax, plus the prohibition in the next two international signing periods of signing any international players to a bonus larger than $300,000.
Because the Cubs and Rangers surpassed their spending limit in the 2013-14 international signing period, they would be ineligible to sign Moncada until the start of the next international signing period, which begins on July 2. But if Moncada were to take that long to sign, that would eliminate the Yankees, Red Sox, Rays and Angels, who surpassed their limit in the 2014-15 period.