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Red Sox believe they have a good one in Yoan Moncada, and Luis Tiant helped get him signed

In this Nov. 12, 2014 photo, Cuban baseball

In this Nov. 12, 2014 photo, Cuban baseball player Yoan Moncada prepares for an exhibition game for major league scouts, in the Enrique Torrebiarte Stadium in Guatemala City. Credit: AP / uncredited

FORT MYERS, Fla. - It wasn't only their checkbook that helped the Red Sox beat out the Yankees in the Yoan Moncada sweepstakes, though that played a significant role, too.

Turns out a long talk with a former Red Sox (and Yankees) standout pitcher and fellow Cuban helped, too.

When the 19-year-old infielder worked out privately on a chilly day at the Red Sox complex here last month, 74-year-old Luis Tiant was front and center, and the two quickly established a bond.

"He spent a great amount of time with Yoan," Moncada's agent, David Hastings, said after his client was officially introduced Friday morning. "He sat in the dugout . . . watched the whole thing. That was impressive to Yoan and I think that had something ultimately to do with the decision."

Moncada, who agreed to a $31.5-million deal Feb. 23 that will cost the Red Sox $63 million because of MLB-imposed penalties for exceeding international spending limits, paused during his introductory news conference to give a shout-out to Tiant.

"I want to thank Luis directly because he sat down with us and explained to us what playing in Boston was like for a Cuban player," Moncada said through his translator. "And I really appreciated his support in all this."

To the surprise of many in the game, the Yankees finished second in the chase for Moncada with an offer maxing out at about $25 million.

"Finished second again," one opposing team talent evaluator said, a reference to the Yankees being outbid in previous years on Aroldis Chapman and Jorge Soler, two international players they were heavily in on. "Didn't used to be like that."

The Yankees worked out Moncada privately three times, the most private workouts any team held for him, and had fellow Cuban Orlando "El Duque'' Hernandez talk to him on the side.

Those in Yankees baseball operations overwhelmingly liked Moncada -- the club is in need of infield depth in its system -- but managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner wasn't willing to give the go-ahead to surpass what general manager Brian Cashman at the time said was the club's "final and best" offer.

"I would doubt there's any disagreement on the scouting assessments of the player; it just comes down to how much money you're willing to commit," Cashman said Feb. 23. "We put our best foot forward. It was a significant offer, but it fell short."

Hastings, a certified public accountant based in Gulfport, Florida, declined to get into the specifics of the negotiations regarding the Yankees beyond acknowledging that a total of 11 teams held private workouts for Moncada.

"We considered all the offers over a couple-of-week period," Hastings said. "Again, it was a matter of looking at everything that all the teams presented and Yoan made the ultimate decision in wanting to be a Red Sox and that's where he is."

Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington called Moncada an "atypical talent" and "one of the most talented 19-year-olds in the world."

In getting the approval of ownership to spend $63 million on a 19-year-old, Cherington said simply: "Opportunities like this seldom come to you."

Moncada, who hopes to make it to the majors in a year, did not respond directly when asked if at any point in the process he thought he would end up with the Yankees.

"It was tough deciding," said Moncada, who has not seen his family, which still is in Cuba, in more than nine months. "All the teams were very impressive in their presentations to me, so yeah, there was difficulty in selecting. But at the end of the day, I appreciated the attention and the plan that the Red Sox set out for me, and now I'm here and I want to get to work."

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