cubaProbably because of the constant pins and needles associated with the Matt Garza rumor circus, Cuban Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez’s free agency isn’t getting as much play as it probably should be. While his ability may be a bit cloudy, given the limited information available, we’re still talking about a 26-year-old power righty in whom numerous teams have interest, and whom the Chicago Cubs could probably use as much as any other organization. This is a fairly big deal.

And Jesse Sanchez reports that the Gonzalez market is taking shape, with an agreement possible next week. The interested teams, according to Sanchez, include the Cubs, Dodgers, Rangers, Red Sox, Phillies, Blue Jays and Braves. The report adds a new potential wrinkle to the Gonzalez pursuit, however: “Scouts believe Gonzalez needs only a few Minor League starts before he pitches in the big leagues and his addition would be similar to acquiring a top pitcher before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline.”

That could pose two distinct issues for the Cubs. First, a subtle and lesser issue: if Gonzalez really can help a team in the second half of this season (a half season in which the Cubs don’t really “need” his help), his value to other bidders – like the Dodgers – will be higher than his value to the Cubs. That means the Cubs will, in a manner of speaking, have to pay “extra” to get him. I say this is a lesser issue, though, because we’re talking about six years of control (presumably), and I doubt the Cubs would be scared off by having to outspend the other teams by a little bit, even considering the higher price those other teams are willing to pay, assuming the Cubs really like Gonzalez in the first place.

The second potential issue: Gonzalez’s presence could gum up the trade market a bit. Crediting Sanchez’s report, if other teams really do believe Gonzalez can step right in after a few minor league starts and be an effective rotation upgrade, then interested teams might prefer to wait on making a trade for a guy like Matt Garza until they know where Gonzalez is going to sign. The Cubs, in turn, may want to wait to move Garza until all interested teams have an opportunity to make their best offer. If the Dodgers, for example, are waiting on Gonzalez’s decision to make a Garza offer … well, it’s just another potential complication.

(Interestingly, this gives the Cubs an extra incentive to sign Gonzalez, though it’s a highly speculative one that assumes there are teams out there that view Gonzalez as a preferable pick up this year to Matt Garza.)

That all said, the ball is really in Gonzalez’s court. He’s reportedly got plenty of suitors, and he could decide that it would be financially advantageous to wait until after the Trade Deadline to sign – when there might be a bit more desperation. It just depends on how highly the teams think of him, and how confident he/they are that he can contribute meaningfully this year.

Gonzalez is expected to get a huge contract, in part because he’s a true free agent that is not subject to international spending restrictions.

(Sanchez’s report also discusses fellow defectors Dalier Hinojosa (who may not sign until after Gonzalez) and Odrisamer Despaigne. We’ve already heard about Hinojosa, and we’ve also heard a bit about Despaigne. Sanchez adds that 24-year-old lefty Misael Silverio has also defected, and is “exploring his options.” That defection actually just took place this week in Des Moines as the Cuban National Team was in the States to play a few exhibition games. You can read about Silverio’s defection here, but it will presumably be quite a long time before he’s eligible to sign.)



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