Cuban infielder Yoan Moncada is another step closer to signing with an MLB team

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While MLB still needs to give their approval, it appears that Cuban infielder Yoan Moncada is one step closer to finally signing with a team. Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com has the story:

David Hastings, the agent for Cuban infielder Yoan Moncada, received a notification from the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) on Friday night stating that his player may be generally licensed as an unblocked national, according to new guidelines for a general license amended Jan. 16, 2015.

This should seemingly clear the way for Moncada to sign with the Major League club of his choice.

The letter, acquired by MLB.com, is in response to Moncada’s request to be specifically licensed as an unblocked national, pursuant to the Cuban Assets Control Regulations (CACR) in a letter sent to OFAC on Sept. 25, 2014.

Section 515.505(a)(2) of the CACR unblocks “any individual national of Cuba who has taken up permanent residence outside of Cuba, provided certain required documentation is obtained and the individual is not a prohibited Cuban Government official or prohibited member of the Cuban Communist Party.”

Other Cuban players like Yasiel Puig have previously signed with a general license from OFAC. However, MLB has recently requested a specific unblocking license from OFAC. And that process can take months. That’s why Moncada — who has taken up permanent residence in Guatemala — and other Cuban defectors remain in limbo. However, these new regulations from the government make the extra hurdle from MLB moot, which is basically what the above letter states. MLB is expected to meet with OFAC soon to clarify the situation, so a resolution appears to be imminent.

Moncada is expected to land a deal in the range of $30-40 million and has drawn interest from the likes of the Red Sox, Yankees, Dodgers, and others. The 19-year-old is considered an amateur, so he’s subject to MLB’s international bonus pools. Teams are penalized for going exceeding their specific bonus pool amounts, so the total outlay for signing Moncada could be in the $60-80 million range. Whoever signs him would also not be allowed to sign a pool-eligible player for more than $300,000 during the next two signing periods. However, Moncada is talented enough for several teams to be willing to take the hit.

Attempting to complete cycle, Robinson Chirinos thrown out to end game

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With his Astros trailing the Tigers 2-1, catcher Robinson Chirinos began his at-bat in the bottom of the ninth a triple shy of the cycle. He doubled in the second inning, singled in the fourth, and hit a solo homer in the seventh. Yordan Álvarez and Yuli Gurriel both struck out, leaving the Astros’ fate in the hands of Chirinos against Joe Jiménez. After working the count to 2-1, Chirinos slapped an 85 MPH slider to the gap in right-center field. A diving Travis Demeritte could not come up with the ball, but center fielder Harold Castro fired the ball back in to Gordon Beckham, who then made a perfect throw to Dawel Lugo at third base. Chirinos was tagged out for the final out of the game. No triple, no cycle. The Astros lost 2-1.

Chirinos was attempting to become the first Astro to hit for the cycle since Brandon Barnes on July 19, 2013 against the Mariners.

The Astros entered Wednesday’s game as the largest favorite in 15 seasons, according to ESPN’s David Purdum. The Astros were -500 per Caesars Sportsbook. Other sportsbooks had them at -550. So the Tigers’ win was quite the upset.

Justin Verlander went the distance in the loss. The only blemishes on his line were solo homers to Ronny Rodríguez in the fifth and John Hicks in the ninth. They were the only hits he allowed while walking none and striking out 11.