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As you know, the newly-implemented collective bargaining agreement dramatically limits the amount of money teams can spend on international signing bonuses, unless teams are willing to pay a steep tax, and forgo future top signings (not unlike the penalties now a part of the Draft). For all teams, that limit will be $2.9 million this year, before changing into stratified amounts next year, based on a team’s record in 2012.

That restriction, however, doesn’t kick in until July 2, which is how, for example, the Chicago Cubs were able to agree to a nine-year, $30 million deal with Cuban outfielder Jorge Soler. So, until July 2, teams are going to be as aggressive as possible in signing eligible players.

To that end, the Cubs are reportedly interested in another newly-eligible Cuban free agent, 23-year-old pitcher Armando Rivero. The right-handed power arm uses a three-pitch mix, and has a fastball that sits in the mid 90s, but reportedly reached the upper 90s in workouts last year. He was a closer in Cuba, and one of the better ones. At 6’3″ and 195 lbs, he’s certainly got the body of a power pitcher. Other teams said to be interested include the Yankees, White Sox, Dodgers, Mets, and Indians.

Given his advanced age, and role in the bullpen, Rivero is the kind of prospect who could move quickly up the farm system ladder.

Teams have been scouting Rivero for months, and, although he isn’t the prospect that Soler is (or even, perhaps, Gerardo Concepcion is), he’s still someone in whom plenty of teams have interest. We might hear more about him in the next two weeks.

(The international spending limitations in the new CBA do not apply to players older than 23, or who have played a certain number of years in a recognized professional league. I’ll confess I’m still a bit fuzzy on the particulars of this exception, but, given Rivero’s age – 23, as of at least last November – it’s possible that he’s pushing right up against this exception. If so, there may not be the same impetus for him to sign before July 2 as there was, for example, with Jorge Soler.)

  • ETS

    Any word on who is in on Yasel Puig?

    • EvenBetterNewsV2.0

      I hope we are. We could have the Cuban Connection in the outfield.

    • Sinnycal

      That’s who I assumed this post was going to be about.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Nope. No word yet.

      (Which is why I wrote about Rivero, only, for now. Obviously you don’t worry TOO much about positions when acquiring young talent, but you could understand why the Cubs might not spend another $30 million on an outfield prospect after adding Soler and Almora (presumably). So, until something connects the Cubs to Puig, I probably won’t say much on him.)

      • Cooper R

        Is Puig expected to cost as much as Soler?

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          The very early report says maybe, but I don’t know that we know enough yet to be certain.

          • Sinnycal

            I’m thinking it might be better for the Cubs if he fails to gain residency by July 2. Like you said, it might not be in the cards to outbid everyone for yet another big ticket outfielder, but under the new restrictions, having Soler, Concepcion, et al might be our leg up on attracting young Cuban players.

      • Chris

        Brett, is there anything on Omar Luis Rodriguez that might link him to the Cubs? A young lefty that projects as a starting pitcher would seem to be exactly what they are looking for, rather than a right-handed relief pitcher type.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          I’ve not heard anything specifically linking him to the Cubs yet, no. That doesn’t really mean much, though.

  • cjdubbya

    Rivero, Puig, whoever else comes available before July 2. Get ‘em all.

  • Carew

    By all means go for it. We need all the arms we can get

  • Raisin

    Your last paragraph is correct. Rivero doesn’t have to worry about the new CBA since he’s already 23.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I believe you have to be older than 23, no?

      • Jackson Scofield

        23 and X amount of days currently, but I haven’t checked the CBAs terminology for that

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          And I haven’t seen a birthdate for Rivero yet.

      • Raisin

        Cubans are exempt for the next 2 years if they are 23 and up AND have played in a Cuban professional league for at least 3 seasons.

        Per Baseball Reference, Rivero debuted in 07-08 so he should be in the clear there.

  • ibcnu2222 (John)

    Which 2012 cuban players from cuba will the 2012 chicago cubs sign before july 2, 2012?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      This is becoming a hilarious meme, but for those who aren’t aware of it, they’re going to think this place is full of morons.

    • Brady

      Why don’t we just buy the whole country. They already have “Cub” in the name.

  • Kevin

    Cuba should change it’s name to Cubs

    • calicubsfan007

      Kevin: I am starting to think the same thing. This seven year old once asked me, “Is Cuba home of the Cubs?” Now I think I should have told the kid yes.

      • Stinky Pete

        My joke is along the lines of bring back the 90’s uniforms that looked like they said Cuba instead of Cubs.

        • Cubbie Blues

          That wasn’t a very good delivery. Of course, the punch line was already out there.

    • Brady

      Curses, I was just typing the joke just above NOOOOOOOOO!!

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  • Cubs Dude

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the FO spends whatever it takes to sign all the available Cubans. They really won’t have the ability to do anything else like this come July.

  • Cub Gone Wild

    Well we spent money on scouts who are supposed to be finding these kids. We need to get them signed if they have graded out. Nice to see we are making some progress. These kids have a bettet shot getting to the bigs coming through our system than most. Not much standing in there way.

    • Cubs Dude

      That’s a good point Gone Wild. Especially if I was a pitcher and wanted to make it to the big leagues fast. There’s pretty much nothing blocking good pitchers in our system.

  • calicubsfan007

    At least he sounds promising.

  • calicubsfan007

    Theo seems far more interested in spending cash on the Cuban free agents than on MLB free agents? Is there something he knows about the Cuban players that we don’t know?

  • Andrewmoore4isu

    Why wouldn’t all
    Cubans that are projected soler types
    Wait
    Until they are 23 and X days before they sign to make $$$$?

    • Drew7

      A lot can happen in 3-4 years…

  • Cub Gone Wild

    I see this morning that Barney is a potential trade candidate. I dont want to trade Barney. I think he has to be part of the rebuild with Castro. How do we get a return package that is ss good or valuable as him in trade. He is not a star player but he is a solid player and we need a couple more Barney types. Not second baseman … solid players

    • Jack Weiland

      Depends on the return, but I agree that I like Barney a lot and the Cubs are unlikely to net a strong return for him. Better off keeping him for now.

    • calicubsfan007

      Cub gone wild: Barney is way more valuable to the Cubs than to any other organization. If we tried to trade him, it would probably be pretty similar to when we traded Theriot. Barney would be the complementary piece of a trade, not the centerpiece.

      • Sinnycal

        I dunno. From what I’ve heard, there’s actually quite a bit of interest in Barney. And it is possible he would be worth more to a team that needs a shortstop than he’s worth to the cubs as a second baseman.

        • calicubsfan007

          Sinnycal: You might be right. It was more my personal opinion on Barney’s value there. But I would be trilled to get a solid return on Barney.

          • bluekoolaidaholic

            Barney brings a lot of intangibles to the table too. I would hate to see him go. He seems to get us going sometimes, and has made some fantastic plays as well as timely hits. He hustles, plays hard, has a great attitude and is smart.
            Now if he could just learn how to chew gum.

            • GoldFinch

              I don’t think Barney is going anywhere.

  • BD

    Another benefit of this crummy season- Cubs will have the biggest pool of money for international FAs next summer.

  • http://www.obstructedview.net berselius

    If he profiles as a reliever, I hope they stay away. If they think he can go the Cashner route, then I might be a little more interested. Still, I’d rather they stay way.

  • Twiz
    • 100 Years of Tears

      That guy sucks, and so does the site… why does anyone read BR?

  • Cara

    http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1225096-chicago-cubs-manager-dale-sveum-drops-the-ball-regarding-alfonso-soriano

    bleacher report is absolutely terrible. The author of the story in the link above is one of the most disrespectful and arrogant cubs fan I have ever come across. Read the comments on the story and you will see what I mean. It makes me so thankful that we have an awesome writer and person in Brett here. Thanks Brett!!

    • calicubsfan007

      Cara: BR tends to have horrible writers who write horrible stories. I read BR to have a laugh.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Well thanks, Cara.

      • Leroy K

        I used to write for bleacher report. After they changed their format, they told me they didn’t need me, which is fine. I have started my own.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          Good for you. Share when you have a chance.

  • http://bleachernation.com #1lahairfan

    I want hazel.

  • http://bleachernation.com #1lahairfan

    Yasel

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  • Assman22

    Yasiel Puig expected to hit market….Cubs interested….

    Puig batted .330 with 17 home runs, 47 RBIs and 78 runs scored in 327 at-bats with the Cienfuegos Elefantes in the 2010-11 Cuban National Series. Later, he averaged .370 in 46 at-bats in the playoffs, at barely 20 years of age.

    Puig, who also was considered the fastest player in Cuban baseball, was left off the Cienfuegos team for the 2011-12 season after having been caught on several occasions trying to escape. He finally succeeded in defecting last month.

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