New York Daily News

Not spending on Sox phenom Yoan is going to cost Yanks

- JOHN HARPER

Think the Yankees are having second thoughts on being outbid by the Red Sox for Yoan Moncada? The 21-year-old Cuban infielder, who signed with the Sox for $31.5 million in March of 2015, is living up to the hype as a hugely touted prospect, and adding to the Red Sox frightenin­g collection of young talent. Frightenin­g to the Yankees, anyway. Only a few days ago Moncada was named as the No. 1 prospect in the minors by Baseball America in its midseason rankings of minor league talent. And on Sunday he earned MVP honors at the Futures Game in San Di- ego, hitting a two-run home run as part of a 2-for-5 day that included a stolen base.

The Yankees, remember, bid $25 million for Moncada, after bringing him in for three private workouts, but they had to know that might not be enough, aware as they were the Red Sox were hot for the kid.

At the time GM Brian Cashman admitted they saw great potential in Moncada but felt compelled to draw the line financiall­y at a certain point.

“We went to where we were comfortabl­e going,” he said.

The Yankees mostly have stayed out of the market for Cuban defectors. More than once Cashman has told me it’s because they have to pay so much in luxury tax, due to their high payroll, for such players that they’ve judged such signings as too risky.

In the case of Moncada, they would have been taxed dollar for dollar on their bid, meaning that $25 million would have been $50 million. But the Red Sox were in the same situation, committing $63 million, tax included, for the player. It didn’t seem very Yankee-like to allow tax money to stand in the way of acquiring Moncada, particular­ly at a time when they desperatel­y need young, high-ceiling talent for the rebuild they don’t want to admit they’re undertakin­g.

But Hal Steinbrenn­er has put a lid on spending the last couple of years, mostly in the major-league free agent market, while waiting for well-documented huge contracts to come

off the books.

It’s starting to look like they’ll regret not spending on Moncada, however, and especially letting him sign with their arch-rivals.

The Red Sox already have three of the best young position players in the majors, in Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley, Jr., and they seem to have more top talent on the way.

On the Baseball America Top 100 list, in fact, the Sox have three of the top 15 prospects: Moncada is No. 1, outfielder Andrew Benintendi is No. 9, and pitcher Anderson Espinoza is No. 15.

The Yankees are well-represente­d on the list as well, with shortstop Jorge Mateo at No. 19, catcher Gary Sanchez at No. 36, slugger Aaron Judge at No. 42 and pitcher James Kaprielian at No. 99.

Throw in pitcher Luis Severino, who doesn’t qualify because of his time in the majors, as well as injured first baseman Greg Bird, and the Yankees have the nucleus for a brighter future, especially factoring in the brilliant play lately of shortstop Didi Gregorius.

The problem is they appear to be chasing the Red Sox in that department, just as they’re chasing them in the standings this season.

 ??  ?? Yoan Moncada is named the No. 1 prospect by Baseball America. PHOTO BY AP
Yoan Moncada is named the No. 1 prospect by Baseball America. PHOTO BY AP
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