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Blue Jays finally tap Cuban market, sign shortstop Javier Monzon

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It's been six years since the Blue Jays signed Adeiny Hechavarria
It's been six years since the Blue Jays signed Adeiny Hechavarria
Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

The past few years have seen a wave of baseball talent leaving Cuba for North America, initially via defections and now some apparently with the tacit approval of the government as relations thaw with the United States. Headlined by impact stars like Yasiel Puig and star prospects such as Jorge Soler, Yoan Moncada and now "Lazarito" Armentaros, there's been a ton of talent for the taking. To the frustration of some fans, the Blue Jays have not a participant in this market since signing Adeiny Hechavarria and strongly pursing Aroldis Chapman in the 2009-10 offseason. Really, there hasn't even been any public indications of them showing serious interest.

But the Jays finally dipped their toes into the Cuban market recently, signing 23-year old shortstop Javier Monzón in a transaction dated February 8th. There's not much out there on Monzón, so it's unlikely he's considered a significant talent, but at the least he's had an interesting path to the Blue Jays organization.

According this April 2015 article in El Neuvo Herald (Google translation here, which translates his name as Monsoon), Monzón left Cuba at 17 for Spain. Despite the latter being far from a baseball hotbed, Monzón caught on with CB Viladecans of top league División de Honor for 2012-13 and he apparently led the team with 10 stolen bases in 2013. At some point in 2013, he ended up the Dominican Republic as he pursed a path to signing with a MLB team.

At roughly the same time, five short YouTube videos of baseball drills were posted by a user named Javier Monzon, which is presumably him. So here's a little two year old BP of the newest Blue Jay:

And if watching a 60 yard dash is your thing, there's that too:

There's one last interesting detail. The signing is listed on February 8, which was (almost certainly not coincidentally) two days after Monzón's 23rd birthday. Under the CBA, any bonus he received should therefore not count against the Jays' 2015-16 bonus pool, whereas it does for players 22 or under. I'd be surprised if he even got a six figure signing bonus, but the Jays are in a situation where literally every dollar counts.

On July 2nd last year, the Jays signed Vladimir Guerrero Jr for $3,900,000, exceeding their bonus pool of $3,395,400 (including slot room acquired) by $504,600 or 14.9%. Going 10-15% over means incurring a 100% tax on the overage and not being allowed to give a bonus larger than $500,000 in the 2016-17 period, whereas going 15% or more over means incurs the harsher penalty of being limited to $300,000 bonuses for two years. That left the Jays with just $4,709 in pool room to stay under 15%. So there's essentially no wriggle room.

This signing probably wasn't exactly what most fans had in mind when it comes to Cubans players, but as the old saying goes, beggars can't be choosers.