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Brewers confirm interest in Yoan Moncada

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Brewers GM Doug Melvin was hesitant to say whether the team would offer the Cuban star a contract, but did confirm their interest.

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In an interview with Adam McCalvy of MLB.com, Brewers general manager Doug Melvin confirmed that the team was indeed interested in Cuban sensation Yoan Moncada, though he didn't seem certain on the team's chances to sign the 19-year-old.

McCalvy notes that a number of high-ranking Brewers scouts were on hand during the team's private workouts, including pro scouting director Zack Minasian, amateur scouting director Doug Reynolds, special assistant Craig Counsell, senior director of baseball operations Tom Flanagan, pro scout Cory Melvin and outfield instructor John Shelby.

More notably, when asked if the team would submit a formal offer to Moncada, Melvin had the following to say:

"I don't want to say, because we haven't had that kind of discussion with ownership yet"

Which, often, is Doug Melvin speak for 'the contract is signed and he's on his way to Milwaukee'. That's maybe not true in this case, though, as the Brewers are viewed as a pretty heavy underdog considering what it would take to sign Moncada. Though team's are still required to work within international free agent budgeting pools when it comes to Moncada, several (including the heavy-hitting Yankees) are already facing the maximum punishments for exceeding these pools and thus have little left to lose.

The Brewers made a big international splash by signing Gilbert Lara, but any further signings will put them at risk of heavy punishments. Moncada is expected to receive a large enough contract that any team signing him would face the heaviest level of penalties for going over their spending pool.

However, it's absolutely worthwhile to note that the Brewers were damn close to the White Sox' $68 million offer for Cuban first baseman Jose Abreu. Even with a 100% fine on overages, the Brewers could spend up to around $30 million and would then be paying, in total, the amount they were willing to give to Abreu. Of course, that would have to mean the Brewers see Moncada at around the same level they saw Abreu, which is far from a given.

Moncada is highly regarded, garnering comparisons to  Dodgers star Yasiel Puig and top Cubs prospect Jorge Soler. Baseball America called Moncada better than recent big Cuban signings Yasmany Tomas (who got $68 million from the Diamondbacks) and Rusney Castillo ($72 million from the Red Sox). However, he's still young and has a long way to go. He's a potential five-tool talent, but it's chancy.

Were the Brewers to manage to sign him, Moncada would become the top prospect in the organization, in all likelihood. He would also fill an organizational hole at second base. While Scooter Gennett has impressed, his ceiling isn't particularly high and he's never shown an ability to hit lefties.

The Brewers almost certainly won't sign Moncada. I feel a big obligation to say that clearly in these articles, and feel like I should bold and underline it, too. The Yankees have money to burn and haven't signed someone to an enormous contract in a while. Other teams have money to burn. The Brewers could, maybe, with some payroll flexibility in the coming years. But until very recently, they hadn't shown a huge inclination to scout internationally. Until they do make an enormous signing like this, I won't expect much. But given their push for Abreu (and, to a lesser extent, a surprise signing of Norichika Aoki), we can't count them out. Even the slightest chance is pretty exciting, in my opinion.