My hands politely request that the Chicago Cubs do not sign that second guy …
Two more top Cuban players have left the island, defecting from Cuba with the intention of signing with a Major League Baseball team, per BA’s Ben Badler. Raicel Iglesias is a 23-year-old right-handed pitcher and Erisbel Arruebarruena is a 23-year-old shortstop. Because of their ages and participation in the highest level of competition in Cuba, neither player will be subject to any international signing restrictions. Once they establish residency elsewhere, get unblocked by the U.S. Government, and are declared free agents by MLB, they will be free to sign with any team for any amount. As big-timer Jose Abreu’s process showed us, this could happen within about two months.
Badler has an extensive writeup on each of Iglesias and Arruebarruena, and each is worth a read. Iglesias is a smaller guy (5’11”, 165 lbs), and has been a dominant reliever in Cuba for a couple years. He’s got a bit of development left, presently throwing in the low-90s with a decent curveball. A team signing Iglesias is likely getting a relief prospect, as opposed to an immediate impact arm. The Cubs will almost certainly put in their work on Iglesias, who tried to flee Cuba back in September, but only just finally succeeded.
Arruebarruena is considered one of the top defensive shortstops in professional baseball in any country, which is what props him up in scouts’ minds, considering that most say his bat is a question mark (sounds a lot like Jose Iglesias). Given the Cubs’ upper level depth in the middle infield, Arruebarruena doesn’t sound like an obvious fit, even if he’s a “prospect.” But, when it comes to international free agents, I tend to think the Cubs will investigate all angles. And, who knows? It’s not impossible to imagine a scenario where the Cubs’ scouts love Arruebarruena’s potential, and would consider reshuffling things to accommodate (Starlin Castro dealt, Javier Baez moved to second, and Arruebarruena considered the long-termer at short – I’m not saying this is likely, but there are angles here).
We’ll have to follow the process on these guys closely to determine whether the Cubs are involved. I suspect we’ll hear a Cubs connection to Iglesias in short order, but maybe not much with respect to Arruebarruena.