Chicago Cubs Reportedly Pursuing *Another* Top Cuban Outfield Prospect – Yasiel Puig

Yes, this is a separate post from yesterday’s “Cubs are pursuing another Cuban prospect” post. This is just something the Cubs do now.

Are you ready to obsess about another top Cuban outfield prospect? Well, too bad, because you’re going to. Hopefully the window for this obsession will be much shorter.

Yasiel Puig, a 21-year-old outfield prospect who defected from Cuba last week, has recently established residency in Mexico, and is hoping to have that process finalized, and to gain free agency from MLB, in time to sign a contract before July 2 – when new international spending restrictions will kick in, dramatically limiting what he’d get paid. The Cubs, among many teams including the White Sox, Yankees, Dodgers, Giants, Phillies, and Diamondbacks, are reportedly interested in adding Puig to their ever-growing stockpile of Cuban talent.

Puig apparently compares favorably to recently-signed outfielders Jorge Soler and Yoenis Cespedes, at least according to his agent (obligatory winky face).

“You have heard the other names because Puig was in Cuba and Soler and Cespedes were out of the country, it’s that simple,” Puig’s agent Jamie Torres said. “Before Soler got to the Dominican Republic, very few people knew who he was outside of his Junior experience. Puig played in the Serie Nacional and was projected to be the right fielder for the national team for the upcoming years. Scouts know who Puig is.”

Puig is considered to be a bit more polished than Soler, having played at a higher level, and is more of a speedster type. Some call him the fastest player in Cuba. From ESPNChicago:

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.

Torres is confident that, despite the exceedingly short window before July 2, Puig will be a free agent in time for teams to be able to go hog wild on bidding.

“We should all be on the same page by July 2nd in order to have the clubs evaluate him and sign a contract before the new rule kicks in,” Torres said. “Under the CBA, if the player receives documentation that he has established residency in a third country he will be declared a free agent immediately just like Cespedes. Cespedes supposedly established residency and the next day he was declared a free agent. I expect the same thing to happen with Yasel Puig.”

So, how involved will the Cubs be? It’s hard to say. For one thing, we don’t yet have a great grasp on just how much it’s going to take to sign Puig. For another thing, we don’t know whether the Cubs’ resources for this kind of spending are tapped after signing Soler ($30 million) and Gerardo Concepcion ($6 million). Further, while you generally ignore positions when stocking up amateur talent, it is fair to point out that, assuming the Cubs sign top draft pick Albert Almora (they will), they will have already added two top outfield prospects in the 18 to 21 year old range. Would they really want to spend top dollar on another?

Maybe. I’m certainly not ruling it out.

I do know that, if you had a limited amount of time to drum up as much interest as you possibly could, and to drive up the bidding, you would probably want to be dropping the Cubs’ name right now as an interested party. Again, I’m not saying that means the Cubs aren’t truly interested. But I’d be surprised (pleasantly) if they went to the mattresses against teams who lost out on Soler, and outbid them all again.

I’m sure we’ll hear much more on Puig in the next two weeks.

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

148 responses to “Chicago Cubs Reportedly Pursuing *Another* Top Cuban Outfield Prospect – Yasiel Puig”

  1. Sinnycal

    Here’s hoping he fails to beat the July 2 deadline. Deep pockets got us Soler. Now let Soler get us Puig.

  2. Steve

    To commemorate this announcement, I’m going to watch Scarface tonight. Instead of the Cuban crime wave, its the Cuban Baseball wave.

    1. cjdubbya

      But how this influx of Cuban talent will murder opposing pitchers at the plate? That’s just criminal.

  3. cjdubbya

    Again, I say do it. Talent in your organization is better than no talent in your organization. Not saying there’s not talent there, but more prospects = more chances to hit at the MLB level, or turn those prospects into established players when the Cubs become buyers at the trade deadline in three years. (Yes, I’m sticking w/ 2015, because Back To The Future told me so)

    1. djriz

      Totally agree. I don’t care if you sign 5 elite outfield prospects. If by some rare occurence they all become top prospects….you’ll get back something. That’s why I’d like the Cubs to keep all their middle infield prospects (unless they are blown away with an offer) so they have the deepest system possible by 2015.

  4. Carew

    Which one do you believe they are gonna go harder after, this guy or the pitcher?

    1. JB88

      Why not both? Again, this gap is closing as of July 2nd. It is like knowing that you are leaving for the Biggest Loser on July 2nd. Might as well tack on another 20 or so pounds before you leave …

      1. Jack Weiland

        GREAT analogy.

      2. Carew

        I gotcha. The analogy made it very clear. Nicely done sir.

  5. JB88

    One thing is for certain, the Cubs would probably be in one of the best positions to have evaluated Puig, considering their numerous Cuban signings over the last few years. It isn’t my money, so I say go get him signed. Because of the information gap, you probably have a chance to sign Puig for substantially less than you signed Soler.

    1. WGNstatic

      Perhaps, but on the flip side a team like the Blue Jays or Braves, both reportedly were heavily after guys like Soler and Darvish, haven’t hit yet, so they may have more $$$ stashed aside for this signing.

  6. PoopyPants McGee

    if he is that fast, then why did it take him so long to escape?

    1. Featherstone

      Because I don’t think he can run on water, his name’s not jesus.

      1. Richard Nose

        I read a scouting report that say’s he’s a horrible swimmer.

    2. CastrotoBarneytoLaHair

      That’s awesome…LMAO!

  7. vitaminB

    When are we going to stop letting in all of these imigrants, taking away jobs from scrappy Americans. Close our borders Obama!!!!

    1. Jeff

      Do you think Campana is worried now? speaking of scrappy fast Americans!

    2. Jarder

      Alright… Everyone back in the pile!

    3. Adam

      I read on ESPN that VitaminB was on a fast track through the cubs minor league system, and set to be the starting center fielder on the big league club by 2014.

      1. vitaminB

        Yeah, I’ve been contacted by the Romney campaign. They are going to call me Joe the Fielder.

        1. Adam

          Not if the cubs sign Puig man…better cross your fingers!

  8. Featherstone

    Love the Godfather reference btw, I dont know much about this guy, but I trust the FO’s ability to evaluate talent and will be eagerly seeing how everything pans out.

  9. Patrick W.

    Check out the little thing he does with his left leg when he bats.

    I don’t think I’ve seen that before.

    1. JB88

      Thanks for sharing the video. Can’t really tell his speed from that montage, but he certainly looks ripped. He might be only 21, but he’s got a man’s body, that’s for sure.

    2. TWC

      Whoa.  Weird.

      1. Drew7

        *hides face*

      2. TWC

        It’s kind of like the batting stance equivalent to Ryan Dempster’s windup glove-turn.

    3. Chris S

      Holy Crap!! That catch he made was amazing! Then get up and fire a pea back into 2nd for the double play!!

      That ankle twist is some sort of timing device, I’d think..

      1. Patrick W.

        I’m totally trying it in my Friday night softball league this week. Because I pull everything and could use some sort of timing thing to slow me down.

    4. ProfessorCub

      Why do Cuban players wear Hammer pants?

    5. CityCub

      Is it just me. Or in that video at 59seconds in. Does it look like Zambrano piching? At a quick look it does to me.

    6. OkieCub

      Even Cuban announcers I can’t understand are better than Hawk and Stone.

  10. Kevin

    Wrigley Field will be called Little Havana!

    1. vitaminB

      Dale told me earlier in the week how he admires Fidel Castro. I agree. What a guy, right?

  11. Jack Weiland

    Brett – Have you seen anything from the prospect gurus on Puig? KG, Keith Law, etc?

    1. djriz

      What, you dont trust his agents scouting report? (double winky face)

      1. Jack Weiland

        Nah, I just prefer a variety of sources/opinions, and I haven’t seen anything on Puig.

  12. Noah

    This would be my one concern with the two Cubans potentially remaining prior to 7/2: how many 40 man roster spots can we give to guys who are a couple years away from contributing at the Major League level?

    1. vitaminB

      3/4th of our roster is filled with guys who can’t contribute at the major league level.

  13. Joshua Edwards

    Next question: is Cuba for sale?

    The Cubs could speed things up getting these players into the organization.

    And I assume negotiating a stadium deal would also be easier than it’s been in Chicago.

  14. Steve

    He and Cepedes both looked juiced. Do they have food in Cuba?? Tony M said he ate octopus everyday??

  15. Jeff

    I don’t know about this whole Cuban thing, I mean if we are going to have to replace deep dish pizza, Italian beef and Vienna Beef hot dogs at Wrigley with rice and beans and plantains, do we really want to go there???

    1. Jack Weiland


      1. Jeff

        I was just joking, I love rice and beans and plantains too…Still wished we would have never traded away our best Cuban ever…Raffy!!

        1. Jack Weiland

          I know. I’ve had some mean cubanos in my time … I see no reason they can’t be added to the rotation.

    2. djriz

      What, you’ve never had a Cuban sandwich? Pork tendorloin AND ham, swiss cheese AND pickles.

      > Delicious!

      1. Jack Weiland



    3. Andrewmoore4isu

      Good racist jokes a re funny…. Bad ones are just racist

      1. Jack Weiland

        What is this even in reference to?

  16. Kevin

    If I’m the Cubs, I go for it, what’s to lose? We are less than 2 weeks away from the new system kicking in, this may be our last chance.

  17. North Side Irish

    Stockpile talent where you can and worry about how it sorts out later. Chances are that one or more of Jackson, Soler, and Szczur don’t work out, so you can’t pass on a guy because it might cause a log jam in the OF in 2015. But it would be a nice problem to have if they all did and the Cubs had Puig too.

    Cubs don’t have a ton of money committed to payroll next season and might not be big spenders in free agency, so it makes sense to spend money on guys like this.

    1. LWeb23

      Logjams are good problems to have.

      Log jams = trade pieces

      1. calicubsfan007

        LWeb23: Unless the team trades away the next Lou Brock for a “proven” major league pitcher.

        1. LWeb23

          And how often does that happen? Especially with how we are building up our scouting department, I would be far less concerned of a potential Lou Brock scenario.

          1. calicubsfan007

            LWeb23: You are right, definetly. Especially with the quality of the scouting department now in comparison with what it was like back then. It’s just a part of me that hates getting right of prospects for veterans. I know it sounds weird, but I am one of those people who believe the best way to build a team up is by the draft and signing young talent. Trading for veterans is always a 50/50 chance of working out for the team receiving the veterans. I know the same argument can be made for the other side, I just don’t like getting rid of the future for the “chance” to win now.

  18. HotStoveCubbies

    Hey Brett can I get some love man? From my blog yesterday-

    “The Cubs are also very interested in 21 year old outfielder Yasel Puig who according to scouts is a more polished Jorge Soler but not as seasoned as Cespedes. He has in fact defected and could be a free agent by this week. His agent says he is likely to sign before the July 2nd collective bargaining deadline and will hold workouts this week.”

    From my post yesterday 2 hours before ESPN Chicago wrote it. Just saying…

    1. auggie1955

      HotStove, I’ll tip my cap to you because I did read this on your blog last night.

  19. The Dude Abides

    As we chase down another three/four year project what is the level of competition these teams play against A, AA, rookie league, NCAA, D2, etc? I’m sure one of you guys have it figured out. Second who is the top three current Cuban born players on MLB rosters? I know the window is closing on signing and maybe the best available will be leaving the island at a record pace to get the big contact.

    1. djriz

      Alexie Ramirez, Dayan Viciano, Chapman and Cespedes all seem to have a decent chance to succeed.

      1. Jack Weiland

        Kendry Morales is another good one.

  20. TWC

    All this nonsense about the repercussions of the potential influx of Cuban prospects into our system is absurd. We have, like, 800 guys from the Dominican Republic in our system — we’re building a prospect-grooming megaplaex there fer chrissakes! — and no one gives a shit, but we show interest in four recent defectors with high upside and everyone thinks we’re going to change our name to the Chicago Cubans, switch out the concessions to rice and beans, and have Fidel Castro sing the seventh inning stretch.  Bizarre.

    1. vitaminB

      What is bizzare is your remarkable inability to pick up on humor in its written form.

      1. TWC

        Yeah.  Or you’re not being humorous.  I’m more inclined to the latter.

        Can you explain to me why those ‘jokes’ are funny when they are of a Cuban variety, and yet no one makes jokes about Dominican prospects (or Miami prospects or Southern California prospects or Tennessee prospects) changing the food served at Wrigley, or the name of the team?

        1. vitaminB

          When we potentially sign three Dominicans in a week period, I’ll make sure to break out some Dominican Lou material.

          1. Luke

            Happens every summer when the International Free Agent summer signing period begins.  Generally a lot more than three are signed, but only the bigger names and bigger bonuses get talked about state side.

        2. Jack Weiland

          This seems like a bit of an overreaction to me.

        3. Jack Weiland

          Right nobody made any jokes about Rock Shoulders’ name when he was drafted.

          1. Pat

            And no one made any Cajun jokes whenTheriot and Fontenot were on the team.

    2. auggie1955

      Maybe the Cubs will bring back those uniforms from the 90s that looked like it had Cuba written on the front of them.

      1. rocky8263

        I love those uniforms! It did look like Cuba!

        1. Leroy K.
    3. Andrew

      Most of the dominican players dont get huge signing bonuses and there is less intrigue because they dont have to escape their country, establish residency, go through all the shady stuff, etc. As for the jokes, the DR is much less famous than Cuba so the jokes come more normally. There are lots of things that come to mind with Cuba: communism, embargo, Fidel, scarface, cigars, the list goes on. Most people (at least me anyway) dont uniquely associate the DR with anything besides creating baseball players. Add to that the Cuba/Cubs word similarity and the dumb little jokes inevitably come. I haven’t found anything in particular offensive, unfunny perhaps, but not offensive or inappropriate. The jokes came with Fukudome too so its not like this is a novel experience

  21. Kevin

    Lle’vame al partido

    1. Grant

      Comprame cacahuetes y cracker jack

  22. vitaminB

    Vamos a algunas carreras

    Look at the bottom of the screen. It’s a Mojito add. It’s already started.

  23. Jack Weiland

    Other random question: anyone know how to pronounce Puig?

    1. vitaminB

      According to the Google it’s Pewg

      1. Jack Weiland

        Interesting. So when he gets to Wrigley it’ll be PEEEEEEEEWWWWWWWWWWWg!

        1. JB88

          And the easiest marketing campaign ever for the Pugi auto dealers …

          1. Jack Weiland

            Google informs me there is also a perfume company bearing this name. This kid has got it made as long as he makes it to the show.

          2. Ogyu

            Not if Peugeot gets to him first. Endorsement bidding war.

  24. Jeremy


    I’m all for adding as much talent as possible, regardless of position, to the farm from the international market as possible..

    1. Jack Weiland

      Same. Especially since the new CBA is going to inhibit the Cubs’ competitive advantage in these markets for at least the next five years.

  25. Featherstone

    Even if the Cubs dont win the bidding war to sign this guy, I am really glad that the Cubs are using their big market payroll to at least apply pressure (even if only perceived) on other clubs. What’s the point of being a big market team if you aren’t using it to your advantage in as many situations possible.

  26. Jeremy

    BTW, For those interested here is a video of Puig in game.

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  28. Cooper R

    26th round pick Jasvir Rakkar from Stony Brook announced he signed with Cubs

  29. Luke

    Fantastic.  The more the merrier.

  30. calicubsfan007

    Just to throw in my 2 cents on this, if the Cubs win with at least one of these Cuban prospects, is it then safe to say that the Cubs would have a monopoly on Cuba?