cuba featureFor the sake of parallelism, I probably should have used Lazarito’s full name in the title – Lazaro Armenteros – but when you have a chance to write “Lazarito” repeatedly, you take it. Perhaps, instead, Yaisel Sierra needs a cool nickname. Since I am not a native Spanish speaker, however, I will not grant him one, myself, for fear that I would accidentally dub him something horrible.

In any case, Sierra and Lazarito are two of the most-observed Cubans right now, even if their stories are very different: Sierra is a free agent 24-year-old pitcher not subject to IFA signing restrictions, but subject to much debate about his value. Lazarito is a not-yet-a-free-agent 16-year-old outfielder, who will be subject to IFA signing restrictions, but not necessarily subject to as much debate about his value (he’s got a lot of it).

The Cubs could conceivably be in on both players, and they are among the many interesting Cuban players making the transition to MLB worth following.



To that end, in his write-up primarily about the Dodgers signing Kenta Maeda, ESPN’s Eric Longenhagen has a couple updates on Sierra and Lazarito worth checking out (as well as a Cuban infielder the Reds are poised to sign).

With respect to Lazarito, Longenhagen notes the upcoming January 8th showcase, and hears from an NL executive that, because the tools grade out as above-average across the board, the bidding for such a young talent could get “pricey.” It’s difficult to even speculate about the range of possible prices, as we’ve seen before with Cuban prospects – and Lazarito is even younger than others we’ve seen, which can spread the price range even further – which could, as I’ve said before, make the IFA-spend-heavy Dodgers the runaway favorite.

Lazarito still needs an exemption from MLB to sign in the current IFA period (when, you’ll recall, the Yankees and Red Sox, among others, would not be eligible to sign him). If that happens, the Dodgers and Cubs are going to be the favorites based almost entirely for logistical reasons (both are big-money clubs that have already blown their IFA budget in this period), but, again, if he becomes a $30+ million type player, I’d be shocked if it wasn’t the Dodgers that landed him.

But, again, that’s still a good outcome for the Cubs, who are likely to be in on many other Cuban prospects in this period, and perhaps denting the Dodgers’ wallet a little for Lazarito could help the Cubs get a couple other guys they want.



As for Sierra, Longenhagen suggests the righty showcased for teams a couple months ago because he’s not seeing the kind of offer he was hoping for. The raw ability – mid-90s fastball, slider that flashes above-average – is intriguing, but teams apparently remain unsure whether he can start in the big leagues. And if he’s a 24-year-old, unpolished pitcher with reliever upside, teams are not going to pay a substantial price. If the Cubs like the raw ability, I’d be into the idea of them going after him with an eye toward giving him a year to develop in the minors (or more, if necessary), since they are not necessarily pressed forĀ absolutely having to have him contribute at the big league level in 2016. Instead, the Cubs’ need for pitchers like Sierra could become more visibly manifest in 2017 and beyond.

The Cubs have not been directly tied to either player by a public report, by the way, and I’ve not heard anything behind the scenes, either. Still, given their situations – “their” meaning all of the Cubs, Sierra, and Lazarito – it seems extremely likely that there’s at least some interest. So we keep following until we hear otherwise (and, because of his broader market impact, I’d probably still be following Lazarito’s story even thereafter).

UPDATE: And just like that, Rian Watt gets us a little more info:

So, there you go. That’s about what you’d expect to hear about the Cubs’ level of interest right now (and you’d rarely hear anything more, since they’re not exactly in the business of telegraphing their moves). They’re interested, depending on how things go, and they’ll continue to monitor. I like it.






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