The next big Cuban sensation (though on a lesser scale than, say, Yoenis Cespedes or Jorge Soler) is officially a free agent. Outfielder Yasiel Puig, 21, who recently defected to Mexico, has been declared a free agent by MLB, according to Jesse Sanchez. He can’t officially sign until he is unblocked by the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, but that isn’t expected to be a long hold-up. In the interim, Puig can start negotiating with teams looking to sign him.
I noted last week that the Cubs were among many teams interested in Puig, and, according to Phil Rogers, that remains the case. A number of teams are involved, but a source tells Rogers not to rule the Cubs out just because they spent so much on fellow Cuban outfielder, Jorge Soler.
(Some interesting color to the Puig story? Ben Badler reports of zaniness last week in Mexico between Puig’s agent – Jamie Torres – and a would-be agent, who tried to spirit Puig away in the night (seriously), so that he could sign the prospect. This was all happening while scouts were trying to, like, actually scout Puig – but they couldn’t find him. Scouts were hopping planes between cities while Puig was doing the same thing. The whole story is kind of crazy, and worth a read.)
But, at the end of this, how excited should we be about Puig, or how hopeful should we be that the Cubs land him? Well, there certainly isn’t any squealing involved. Puig sounds like an intriguing prospect, but, outside of his agent, you aren’t going to hear anyone put him in the same ballpark as, for example, Jorge Soler. Part of the problem is that Puig, because of suspensions tied to trying to defect, hasn’t played in front of scouts in over a year. The sense that scouts do have, however, is that he doesn’t have overwhelming talent, and probably wouldn’t be a top ten prospects in an average farm system. This could all change rapidly as more eyes get on him.
A lot of that was true of Gerardo Concepcion, though, and we certainly were excited when the Cubs landed him. And he certainly got a whole lot of money, too.
I suppose what I’m trying to say is this: whether the Cubs sign Puig or don’t, and whether he gets $2 million or $10 million, it’s always nice to add talent to the farm system. Puig is not a game-changer (yet), so it would be nice to land him, but it won’t be crushing if the Cubs don’t.
Obviously, he’ll try to have things decided and finalized by next Tuesday, July 2. (Given how long it took Soler’s process to shake out, and how long it’s now taken to get him finally signed, the Puig time table remains impressively aggressive to me. But, hey, you can’t blame him.)
UPDATE: Holy crap. The Dodgers have reportedly come to terms with Puig on a $40 million(!) (!!!!!!) deal. More details are filtering in, and nothing is confirmed, but, um, holy crap. Did I mention holy crap?