The process of establishing residency somewhere, taking care of the appropriate paperwork, getting unblocked by the U.S. Government, and then receiving free agency from MLB can take several months. That makes things extremely interesting here, because, at 26 and a Cuban star, Fernandez projects to be a big league regular right out of the gate. But if he’s not available to sign until late January or February at the earliest, how will infield/offense-needy teams proceed this offseason? Will they take the right deal if it comes along, or will they want to wait on Fernandez? Is that too much of a risk? How many teams will be in on him?
It’s going to be a fascinating side story to the offseason, particularly if Fernandez is as good as Ben Badler has suggested he is. He’s more of a contact and discipline type than a big power type, but that’ll still play.
We’ll have more on Fernandez once some credible rumors start circulating, but I think it’s a fair bet that the Cubs will kick the tires, as every team will. When the rubber meets the road, however, the Cubs will probably preserve their resources for spots where they aren’t as loaded as the infield. Yes, you get assets for money when you can, but when there might be so many heavily interested teams, the relative value of splurging on Fernandez might be less to the Cubs than a team that desperately needs an offensively-inclined second baseman.
Even if that’s the case, though, Fernandez’s free agency could have a significant impact on the Cubs. To the extent there were teams out there planning to aggressively pursue one of the Cubs’ infielders in trade, perhaps now they will wait on Fernandez. Perhaps a team that waits on Fernandez and doesn’t get him will be very desperate come Spring Training. Perhaps a team in the market for an infielder and a pitcher will hold back some of their chips for Fernandez, letting a top pitcher sign elsewhere. You can’t project these things for certain until there’s a little more known on what Fernandez’s market could look like. Based on recent top offensive Cuban defections, however, it has now become reasonable to project that the elite guys will be paid handsomely.
We’re still waiting to see how Yasmany Tomas’s free agency plays out for many of the same reasons.