Baseball: Cuban teen Moncada turns down Yankees and Dodgers, signs onto Red Sox deal

The Boston Red Sox have reportedly signed prized Cuban prospect Moncada, a switch-hitting infielder coveted by a host of Major League Baseball teams, to a record US$31.5 million (S$42.7 million) signing bonus. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
The Boston Red Sox have reportedly signed prized Cuban prospect Moncada, a switch-hitting infielder coveted by a host of Major League Baseball teams, to a record US$31.5 million (S$42.7 million) signing bonus. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK (AFP) - Cuban teenager Yoan Moncada has agreed to a deal with the Boston Red Sox worth US$31.5 million (S$42.7 million), according to the Major League Baseball (MLB) website on Monday.

The 19-year-old infielder, who began playing for Cuba's Cienfuegos at 17 and batted .277 over parts of two seasons, landed a record sum for an international amateur player.

And his deal will cost the Red Sox twice that sum as the American League club will be penalised for exceeding MLB's bonus limits for international signings.

Since Boston had already surpassed the bonus limit, they will have a 100 percent tax on Moncada's deal, meaning the team will have to pay a further US$31.5 million.

Four other clubs were also interested in signing the teenage prodigy, but he turned down offers from the New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers, Texas Rangers and reigning World Series champion San Francisco Giants.

Moncada, who plays second and third base and shortstop, did not have to escape from Cuba like many other who have sought their fortune in the American major leagues.

The Cuban government gave Moncada a visa and passport last year and he went to Central America to train before showing his skills to scouts from all major league clubs last November in Guatemala.

He only became a free agent on February 3 after MLB met with US government officials regarding new guidelines over Cubans signing deals with American clubs. Moncada is expected to be the first player to sign a deal under the revamped policy.