Whether he was going to get a lot of attention was never a question. Teams are going to be scouting 16-year-old Lazaro Armenteros – “Lazarito” – and gearing up to offer him a great deal of money. That’s been a given for a while.
The primary question was when the Cuban prospect was going to be eligible to sign. If he was going to be eligible before June 15, teams like the Cubs and Dodgers, who’ve blown out their IFA spending pools in this period, would be able to sign him. If he was not going to be eligible until July, then the Cubs and Dodgers would be out of the mix.
But it doesn’t sound like that’s going to happen.
Ken Rosenthal reports that Lazarito has been cleared to sign by MLB, and will be available starting February 10.
Given how aggressively they’ve spent in international free agency already, it’s entirely possible that this is a one-team race, with the Dodgers standing ready to throw an unbeatable amount of money at the young prospect.
Even if that’s true, however, Lazarito’s availability in this period is still very good news for the Cubs, who are rumored to be pursuing a number of other big-time Cuban prospects. If Lazarito occupies the Dodgers’ attention and dollars a little bit, then maybe the Cubs will have a slightly easier time getting the other guy(s) they want.
This should all pick up quite a bit in the coming weeks.