By Mike Tulumello
“His skill set is obviously off the charts,” White Sox manager Rick Renteria said. “We’re hoping he’s going to be able to do everything from defend, to hit, to steal bases.”
The 21-year-old Cuban was acquired in the Sale deal along with throwing pitcher Michael Kopech and two other prospects.
Moncada, speaking through a translator, said his goal is “to make the team and help them win the World Series.” But these ambitions may have to wait a bit; Renteria said Moncada is likely to start the season in the minor leagues.
Moncada agreed to a $31.5 million signing bonus with the Red Sox in 2015, and Boston still is responsible for three payments totaling $11 million through October 2018. In addition, the Red Sox incurred a 100 percent tax on the bonus for exceeding their international signings pool, raising the cost to the team to $63 million.
He made his big league debut last year, going 4 for 19 in eight games. The White Sox are not in a rush, coming off four straight losing seasons. His biggest challenge is living apart from his parents and sister in Cuba; though he plans to visit as frequently as possible.
“That’s the biggest adjustment I have to make because my family is everything,” he said.
Now 21, Moncada has been reunited with White Sox slugger Jose Abreu, a former teammate in Cienfuegos, Cuba.
“He’s helped me a lot,” Moncada said of the 30-year-old Abreu. “He has more experience than me. He’s spent more time here. He’s given me advice about life, about baseball in the U.S. and about this team. I’m glad to have him here with me.”
Abreu is trying to guide Moncada in the nuances of being a good teammate.
“I’ve been helping him as much as I can,” Abreu said, also through a translator. “He’s always been a good kid, a respectful kid and a hard worker. I hope he can show that here. He can become an All Star, because I know he has the talent.”