While we await some kind of formal decision on Alfredo Despaigne (he has headed back to Cuba for now, and an imminent defection looks very unlikely), it turns out that another top Cuban outfielder could be nearing a signing decision.
Daniel Carbonell is already available to be signed, and is reportedly weighing offers from five teams, two of which are the Yankees and Mariners, according to Ken Rosenthal. The identities of the other three teams are unknown, but the contract offers are all believed to be in the five to seven year range. A source tells Jesse Sanchez, though, that Carbonell is seeking a four-year deal – presumably with the right to head to free agency immediately thereafter, a la Yoenis Cespedes’ deal with the A’s. Perhaps he is now waiting for an involved team to blink. Presently, it doesn’t look like the Dodgers, Red Sox, White Sox, Braves, or Twins are seriously involved.
So, who is Carbonell and why am I discussing him here without a direct Cubs rumor?
Well, he’s a 23-year-old talented outfielder, available for nothing more than money. That’s why. Unless the Cubs’ internal scouting on Carbonell has raised the kind of red flags that would bury their interest, there’s no reason to believe they would not be involved, as they have with virtually every other young, international talent over the past few years. Further, although the Cubs have some talented outfielders working their way up the system, there aren’t three guaranteed stars whose presence would simply prohibit the Cubs from accommodating Carbonell if he turned out to be a stud. If the Cubs have the opportunity to get young talent now, they will take it.
As for Carbonell, specifically, he’s a switch hitter who has played for four years in Cuba’s highest league, despite his tender young age, and is considered a five-tool player, at least so says Jesse Sanchez. He’s apparently got great speed, a good arm, and some skills in the outfield. His career line in Cuba is .287/.359/.398, though it has been trending upward as he got a little older.
Against that backdrop, it’s still hard to get a gauge on the caliber of talent we’re talking about here. Based on early hype, Aledmys Diaz and Odrisamer Despaigne figured to sign for a whole lot more than the relative pittance they actually wound up receiving. Conversely, folks knew Yasiel Puig was good, but didn’t know he was $42 million good until he received $42 million from the Dodgers. Sometimes, we don’t know what the baseball consensus is on a Cuban player until he actually signs (unlike other international players, on whom the scouting is more consistent and visible).
You can watch a little video of Carbonell here and here (the latter of which is set to Imagine Dragons, because HYPE). You can really tell only so much from these things, but sometimes they’re fun to watch.
An interesting wrinkle for Carbonell: because he’s played four years in Cuba, and not five, if he signs after July 2, he’ll be subject to international signing restrictions. Why? The rule for Cuban players changes in the next signing period (which opens on July 2) – previously, a player over age 23 had to have played just three years of professional ball in Cuba to not be subjected to the signing restrictions. In the next signing period, that year requirement bumps up to five.
In other words, unless Carbonell wants to see his payday shrink quite a bit, he’ll sign before July 2.
We’ll see if the Cubs’ name pops up in the Carbonell pursuit in the coming weeks. It would not surprise me.