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cuba featureIf you were looking for the next big international storyline to obsess about, I think we may have just gotten it.

Baseball America’s Ben Badler reports that Cuban slugger Yasmani Tomas has left the island of Cuba, and intends to sign with a team in MLB. Tomas still has to establish residency in another country, get an unblocking license from the US government, and then be granted free agency from MLB, so this process could take a while. Tomas may not be eligible to sign until the offseason.

In the interim, we can excitedly speculate about Tomas, whom Badler says will not be subject to any international signing restrictions because of his five years of experience in Cuba. Tomas put up huge numbers as a 21-year-old at Cuba’s highest level (.301/.340/.580) and again as a 22-year-old (.289/.364/.538) before stepping back a bit this year (.290/.346/.450), which may have been related to an arm injury (and/or changes in league rules, which seemed to have brought down offense overall).

What Tomas really brings is huge power – Badler calls him a 70 on the 20-80 scale, which is excellent – and the ability to play all over the outfield. He’s most likely to be a corner outfielder, but the ability to technically play center suggests a nice bit of athleticism (even if he winds up in a corner). He’s likely to be a “prospect”-type signing, meaning that he could need some time in the upper minors before being ready for the big leagues.

Read Badler’s piece for more on Tomas, about whom I expect we’ll be hearing A LOT more in the coming months.

If the Cubs like Tomas – to recap: 23-years-old, costs only money, huge power, corner outfield – we’ll see if they really did hold back some money to make a big move like this. Because he sure seems to be a fit.

It’s too early in the process to have any actual rumors connecting specific teams, by the way.

For now, just look at that power:

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