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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?

  • ETS

    I’m assuming no updates on Armando Rivero?

  • JB88

    Monday, July 2nd. Not Tuesday.

  • BD

    Anyone the Cubs can sign who might have upside, and it’s just a bidding war (i.e. only spending money)- I want him signed. There are 5 days left without limits, so they need to sign them all.

    I’m also thinking that this guy expects to get a decent amount more than the $2.9M cap. Otherwise, there wouldn’t be such a rush to get signed by Sunday night.

  • andrew

    The Dodgers have agreed to sign 21-year-old outfielder Yasel Puig to a multiyear deal worth more than $40MM, MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez reports.

    Whoa there

  • cjdubbya

    I’m OK with this…I think. I know the “it’s only money” folks are out there, but a prospect nowhere nearly of Soler’s caliber, but over $10 million more? That’s fine.

    • BD

      I think it’s hard to say where his ability is at for sure, since he hasn’t been playing. But that doesn’t mean the talent is gone (he was pretty good 2 years ago, especially for an 18yo).

  • Dan

    Wow, 40 million? That’s umm, more then Solar. Either Brett’s story is inaccurate about Yasiel’s ability or the Dodgers just went bonkers!!!

    • andrew

      It might not be more than soler. Remember solers contract has an opt out clause that lets him make more money in arbitration potentially. If the dodgers dont include that, or have more years, it could be cheaper. It all depends on the specifics at this point.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        Definitely. It could be for 20 years for all we know.

        • MichiganGoat

          Ha, just think if a team could sign a player like Pujols (not saying he is even close to him, so everyone relax) for 20 years for 40M, that would be the biggest steal ever.

        • Dan

          20 years? Really? I’ve never heard of a 20 year contract for a player. He’ll be 40!!!

          • Andrew

            I don’t think the 20-year thing has ever happened in baseball, but wasn’t Magic Johnson’s rookie contract for 20 years? There’s probably something against it in the CBA now, but if there were anyone who knows about 20-year contracts it would be the now-Dodgers owner, Magic Johnson.

            Edit: And yes – I, too, am aware that this contract is not likely to be that long.

          • Andrew

            And I just fact-checked – after 2 years in the NBA Magic signed a 25-year deal. Irrelevant to the conversation about Puig, but just wanted to get my facts straight. :)

        • Cubs Dude

          Wait.. I thought Brett was being sarcastic. Is this contract really for 20 yrs??

          • MichiganGoat

            yes he was there is no report on the details, just the money. I was just imagining what it would be like if you hit the lottery with a contract like that.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Having never seen Puig play in a game myself (other than a one-at-bat YouTube clip), I’m going only on what a pooling of expert opinions tells me. And it tells me that he is not Soler. At all. They could be wrong, of course, for the reasons explained.

      • Dan

        Your my number 1 source Brett! Your more then accurate. I’m just being sarcastic. :)

  • magilljl

    Multiple sources backing up the deal with the Dodgers. Wow.

  • North Side Irish

    Not surprised about it being the Dodgers to sign him…shocked that they apparently signed him to a 20 year deal.

  • cjdubbya

    I just kinda wonder what American-born players think of this type of money being thrown around to international dudes. Obviously that goes away in very short order, but I’d be curious to know what they think.

  • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

    Either the Dodgers think Puig is much better than scouting reports have indicated, they are absolutely desperate for a big PR win and a power bat, or there are some opt out clauses for the Dodgers in this deal that protects them.

    Based on what I’ve read about Puig from people who are not his agent, I think he might be comparable to Michael Burgess – big bat, but may not be able to make enough contact for it to matter.  And I cannot imagine Burgess being signed to a $40 million dollar deal.

    • Featherstone

      I dont recall reading that power was his strong suit, I recall him being a guy who plays off his speed. I’m probably wrong, but I am genuinely curious though. You are right about the Dodgers wanting a big PR win though, especially with the new ownership, losing skid they are in, and losing out on Soler.

  • Featherstone

    Speaking of the dodgers, I hope the Giants can keep putting the screws on them in the division so they are more likely to make a big splashy deadline acquisition to save face. Say maybe a top-tier starting pitcher *cough* garza/dempster *cough*

    • andrew

      Maybe they made this sign because theyre going to drain their farm system dry trading for dempster and/or garza

      • BleedBlueinWNeb

        i like this theory

  • North Side Irish

    Now seeing reports of 7 years, $42M, which is about 3x what I thought he’d get. I’m OK with the Cubs missing out on this one…

    • ChicaugoJim

      I agree, 3 yrs and 12 million more than Soler, who is essentially AAA ready, seems absolutely outrageous.

      • JulioZuleta

        Soler is not AAA ready.

        • Grant

          And I thought we got 8 years on Soler, not 4.

          • chirogerg

            nine years, and he will start at Arizona and may make Peoria by the end of the season. Not AAA ready, or even close. (Soler is more raw and has less experience against high competition than Puig, but Soler’s ceiling is much higher)

  • EvenBetterNewsV2.0

    This makes me all the more happy about Team Theo and Soler. I know he can get more if he is a star, but if he is we are all cool with it. He deserves it. If not, then we can see it isn’t as bad as this.

  • Serious Cubs Fan

    Seems like they might have over paid for him. Thats a pretty hefty contract. I just want to know what the Dodgers saw in him to give that much?

  • rich

    Wilber that’s the best one i’ve heard yet! lol!

  • Kyle

    You can’t possibly reconcile the “not top 10 prospect” and this contract. Clearly, the reports that he’s not a top-10 prospect in an average farm system were wrong.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      The Dodgers are badly in need of a middle of the lineup bat.  If they think Puig can be in the majors later this season, they might be willing to overpay regardless of his ceiling.

      Edit: Then again, I’m not sure he profiles as a middle of the order bat.

    • Serious Cubs Fan

      I agree Kyle. The contract automatically catapults him in to top 10 prospect talent on a team. There is NO WAY a guy gets $42 million and isn’t a big time talented prospect. Yes they may have over paid a little bit but that kind a of money speaks elite level talent. Soler got $30 million over 9 years! I mean I know there are things in Solers contract that could make his contract much more expensive but still.

    • JulioZuleta

      Ben Badler, who is probably the most internationally plugged in guy outside of an actual scout said :

      Ben Badler‏@BenBadler
      No. RT @davidrelliott How about this then: Is Puig a top 10 guy in a normal system?

      Ben Badler‏@BenBadler
      I try to be kind when writing about international FAs, so I’ll just say our reports on Yasiel Puig are extremely modest http://bit.ly/MVhqUu

      Ben Badler‏@BenBadler
      Report has a look at Yasiel Puig that’s not too glowing. Only one team I’ve heard linked to him. http://bit.ly/MVhqUu

      Ben Badler‏@BenBadler
      Teams don’t seem enamored with Yasiel Puig,

      Ben Badler‏@BenBadler
      Great quote from a great scout: “If you have to fix him, don’t sign him.”

      He talks to a lot of scouts and none seemed overly impressed. It’s pretty telling that He considers Soler a top 25-30 prospect in baseball, but Puig not a top 10 in a normal system. Obviously the Dodgers saw something others did not (apparently another team did too, according to MLBTR, it wasn’t his highest offer).

  • Serious Cubs Fan

    Another thing I would love to know is how much the Cubs and other teams bidded on him. The Dodgers definitely weren’t bidding against themselves. So I want to know who were the other teams that were bidding up and driving up the prices so much that it got to be $42 million! There were other teams who obviously thought very highly of him to cause the bidding to get that high. My only concern is that we might not realize how talented and seriously underrated this guy was because there wasn’t much info or scouting reports on him. I doubt the Dodgers just came to the conclusion to decide to out bid people by say $12 million dollars more then anyone. Thats bad business and I doubt they did that. I’m just worried we lost out on a guy that the cubs might have thought very highly of and went hard after. I think clearly there is more star power to this guy then people thought.

  • Jim

    Maybe the Dodgers snuck him out of Cuba to their private training facility?

  • Serious Cubs Fan

    Just to give context. The people who gave Puig $42 millions dollars make a ton more money then the people who said he wasn’t a top 10 prospect in an average minor league system. Just saying. There is a reason the Dodgers front office is making the big bucks and the reporters or guys writing these statements are not.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I don’t doubt that the Dodgers know a fair bit more about him than the pundits; you’re quite correct there.

  • JoeyCollins

    Jkn heyman is reporting the dodgers offer wasn’t the highest bid? Wtf? This makes me wonder what they know but I have a bad feeling they just spent a lot of money on PR and way over payed. Really glad we weren’t all in on this kid like we were soled. Or that the dodgers didn’t goo this crazy on soled.

    • TWC

      “…but I have a bad feeling they just spent a lot of money on PR and way over payed.”

      If that’s the case, I don’t have a bad feeling about that at all.  Screw LA.

    • Serious Cubs Fan

      If the Dodger werent the highest bid on Puig! I want to know who the heck bid higher on him! And this is weird case where the guy didn’t take the most money! Sounds very suspicious and sounds like their is some very fishy business going on. I wonder if there was some rule breaking going on behind the scene. I’m sorry but players especially foreign not well off players who have never made any kind of significant money in there life turn down more money. I sound like a conspiracy theorist but maybe the Dodgers help pull strings to get him residency in Mexico and acquire free agency so fast.

  • BleedBlueinWNeb

    just watched the youtube clips of Puig…i think the cuban type music in the background at these stadiums and in these clips make any prospect look exciting. looks like good athlete. batting stance looks like a mix of Cespedes and japanese hitter.

  • duck

    I’m glad it didn’t happen; that name was giving me fits.

  • RWakild

    Wow. I was thinking he would sign for about 10 million from the scouting reports. Either the Dodgers are very pissed they missed out on Solar or he is better than the reports say. Will be interesting to see the results of this one.

  • rbreeze

    So are we still short one Cuban????????

    • Serious Cubs Fan

      I’d say we are. Lets get that 23 year cuban pitcher. Sounds like he could be a solid reliever and wouldn’t take long to get to the majors. I forget his name. To lazy to look it up

  • baldtaxguy

    Wow, a deal that exceeds that of Cespedes?

  • KB

    I’m surprised that pundits and scouts didn’t have him ranked much higher. The reason he hasn’t played ball in a year has nothing to do with injury or ineffectiveness…it was punishment from a communist dictatorship for having repeatedly tried to flee the country.

    When he did play, he put up huge numbers, especially for his age. And even if you don’t fully trust Cuban-ball numbers, on a pure “tools” basis, he stood out (for instance, numerous reports claim that he’s the fastest runner in all of Cuba).

    So, let me go completely against the grain from everyone else here on the site, and say that, uh, this was our LAST chance to flex our big-money/big-market muscles (as per international signings, and as per STAR-level players), and we let it flit away.

    • Jimmy james

      Last chance but you have to stop before you get to stupid money….No reports put this guy on the level of cespdes or soler, dodgers just went nuts…..it may work out but I don’t blame the cubs on this one

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