Former Detroit Tigers pitcher Drew Smyly was in the news this week, but it didn’t have anything to do with his play on the field at the start of Rays Spring Training. It all started with this tweet reacting to the Boston Red Sox free agent signing of 19-year old Cuban sensation Yoan Moncada:
This kind of money is not available to amateur players from other countries, including the United States. This was summed up nicely by Brian Manzullo of the Detroit Free Press in his Tuesday article:
Amateur baseball players in the United States are subject to the first-year player draft process, and there are restrictions for how much money MLB teams can dole out to draftees.
Cuban players like Moncada are not subject to the same rules. Other players from Cuba have signed contracts recently for large dollar amounts including Jose Abreu who received a $68-million dollar deal from the White Sox and Rusney Castillo who agreed to $72.5-million from the Red Sox.
Rob Manfred, Major League Baseball’s new commissioner, seems to agree with Smyly’s take:
Rob Manfred’s response to Drew Smyly’s comments on Moncada: “It makes all the sense in the world to have a single method of entry.”
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) February 24, 2015
Manfred has been in the news lately for his interest in possible proposals for baseball rule changes. This most recent development may bring re-ignite conversations regarding an international baseball draft.
Who can fault an individual player for signing for what the market will bear for his services? For his part, Smyly wanted to make sure that he wasn’t criticizing Moncada personally, or any other international player for that matter, for taking advantage of an opportunity to sign a lucrative deal. He clarified his comment in an article with The Tampa Bay Times.
“I think it’s awesome that he got that, I’m all for any player making as much money as they can make in this game. So it’s nothing against him or any Cuban player,” Smyly said.
“I was only trying to say everyone else doesn’t have those opportunities. So I think there should be some way where everyone, every amateur, has the same opportunity and guidelines. And that’s not even America vs. Cuba; Dominican Republic and Venezuela players don’t get that. They have never got close to that signing bonus.”