The ink has barely dried on the four-year pact the Padres made with James Shields, but general manger A.J. Preller is already working on his next move.
The newest target appears to be free agent Cuban infielder Yoan Moncada.
That’s the word coming from Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports:
We covered Moncada in detail last week when he was officially declared a free agent and became eligible to sign with any team.
The 19-year-old is arguably the most coveted free agent still on the market and is widely-viewed as the top prospect out of Cuba.
Signing Moncada would be yet another win in an already impressive offseason for San Diego, long one of the games stingiest and quietest teams in the free agent and trade game.
The Padres have already added a slew of talent this offseason including: Shields, Matt Kemp, Justin Upton, Wil Myers, Brandon Morrow, Derek Norris, Will Middlebrooks, Shawn Kelley, Brandon Maurer, and Josh Johnson.
Moncada is expected to play at second base or third base when he reaches the majors, but the Padres could continue to try him at shortstop in hopes that he could stick at the position for the long-haul, despite his size.
No matter where he ends up defensively, he figures to contribute in a big way on the offensive side of the ball. Moncada is a switch-hitter with great bat speed and raw – but burgeoning – power that could make him elite if he sticks as a middle-infielder.
He also brings tremendous speed on the bases and in the field and the type of arm strength that will allow him to play anywhere on the diamond.
The Padres will, obviously, have a lot of competition for Moncada. He’s already held a public showcase that was heavily-attended and has taken part in a number of private workouts for clubs as well.
The usual suspects when it comes to big spending – the Dodgers, Yankees, and Red Sox – are heavily-speculated to be the front-runners, but Moncada has “game-changing” potential and figures to draw heavy-interest all around the game.
San Diego’s new-found aggressiveness under Preller makes the club an absolute wild card for Moncada – and/or any other free agent or trade candidate – and makes the Padres a very, very intriguing club to watch in the coming season.