cuba featureNow that Cuban baseball players generally have a slightly easier time leaving the country in search of a career in the United States, the rapid influx of new, talented athletes into MLB continues to be impressive. Indeed, Jesse Sanchez reports that roughly 100 players have left Cuba, headed towards MLB, in the last 12 months, alone. What used to take months of planning and preparation (let alone rumor mongering and reporting) has begun to unfold in what feels like a matter of minutes.

Just about every day, it seems, there are new, can’t-miss players that pop up out of no where and command significant deals (for example although he’s not a prospect, big-time second baseman Jose Fernandez is reportedly finally on his way).

Certainly some players require smaller commitments, indicating lower expected impact, while others – like the Dodgers recent $31M (after taxes) binge on outfielder Yusniel Diaz – reminds us that there are still big fish to fry.

Over the past few years, the Cubs have come to represent one of the more dedicated international spenders, at all levels of impact, so the following reports should come of no surprise:

So, to unpack the tweets above, it would appear that the Cubs are interested in – at least – five new Cuban prospects. The list includes pitching prospects Cionel Perez, Norge Ruiz and Adrian Morejon, as well as outfield prospects Jorge Ona and Jonatan Machado. All five will count against the Cubs international spending cap, as each is under 23 and has fewer than five years of experience in Cuba. That means each will cost their contract plus 100% overages in taxes. Although that makes negotiations slightly more difficult, you’ll recall that the Cubs are among a small group of teams that have already blown out their budget in this international signing period, and thus seem more likely to go after pricey prospects.

You can read more about all of those players, and their link to the Cubs, here, here and here. There is relatively good amount of information on each of them, but, like most Cuban free agents, it’s difficult to grasp their expected impact until they ultimately land a deal (and even then it can be much more or much less than expected).

And to be sure, each of these free agents are not created equal. While nearly all will expect to play at least some minor league baseball, others are true prospects. Morejon and Machado, for example, are just 16 years old. They wouldn’t even play professional baseball in the States for some time. But don’t let that, or the unusually large quantity of players dissuade you. There is some serious talent coming in, and the Cubs appear likely to strike.

(By the way, overspending in that very first international period had, at times, looked both brilliant and idiotic (to an extent). Now? It’s looking like the best possible outcome. The Cubs were able to scoop up multiple top guys the first time around, sat out one intriguing period and now have their pick of the most unexpectedly big litter. Maybe Theo Epstein helped to rebuild the U.S./Cuba relationship as a talent-acquisition strategy.)

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