This offseason, and particularly in the late offseason, there was something of a wave of Cuban defectors becoming available for signing by Major League Baseball teams. Early on, we had first baseman Jose Abreu and infielder Alexander Guerrero, and then there was catcher Yenier Bello, and then infielders Erisbel Arruebarruena and Aledmys Diaz. Each of those five has since signed on with a big league team, with the deals ranging widely from $68 million to Abreu and $28 million to Guerrero (who has since been sent to the minors), sliding down to relatively small deals for Bello and Diaz.
There was another group of intriguing defectors, however, about whom we still haven’t heard much. Two of those names – outfielder/infielder Rusney Castillo and pitcher Raicel Iglesias – have been particularly absent from any recent rumors, and it looks like Ben Badler can explain why:
Raicel Iglesias and Rusney Castillo haven't been granted free agency yet. Top two Cuban players off the island right now.
— Ben Badler (@BenBadler) April 16, 2014
Oh. Well how about that.
Although it’s unclear whether the Cubs will be interested in either player, you’ve got to figure that, with young international talent, the Cubs will always at least kick the tires. When the duo actually reaches free agency, perhaps we’ll hear more.
We’ve talked about Castillo and Iglesias a few times before (here, here, and here), but the short version is this: Castillo, 26, is a versatile player with a little bit of pop, but scouts aren’t sure he can be a starter in the big leagues. Iglesias, 23, is a smaller pitcher who has upside, but will need some minor league seasoning, and might wind up in the bullpen long-term.
When these two are granted free agency, I expect we’ll hear a flurry of new rumors. The Cubs didn’t spend a much money in the offseason, so, should they really like one of these guys, it’s entirely possible that they’ll be able to nab that player (or both) if it’s a guy they really want. With so little information on them at this point, however, I couldn’t even begin to speculate as to what kind of financial commitment they would require.