It’s possible the months-long anticipation about where big-time Cuban prospect Lazaro “Lazarito” Armenteros will sign will be settled tomorrow.
That’s the first day Lazarito, 16, is eligible to sign with an MLB team, and he tells MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez that he’ll spend today thinking over his options and then is planning to make a decision tomorrow.
There are upwards of nine teams with “strong interest” in Lazarito, according to Sanchez’s sources, and that includes the Cubs, Dodgers, Braves, Padres, and Phillies. That’s the first report tying the Cubs to Lazarito directly. Although we knew that the Cubs were monitoring the situation, and we also knew that, as a team that’s already blown its international pool, there was no reason for the Cubs not to at least kick the tires, we’d not yet heard from sources that the Cubs were definitely one of the teams with “strong interest” in Lazarito.
Lately, though, there’s been an uptick in chatter about the Braves, who are reportedly planning to blow their IFA budget during the next period. If Lazarito chooses to sign with the Braves, then, it’s going to require a gentleman’s agreement for Lazarito to wait until July 2 on a promise from the Braves – a risky strategy when there will be life-changing money on the table right now from other teams. Alternatively, the Braves could opt to blow their budget now, but that seems unlikely, given that they’re already deep in on a huge number of July 2 prospects. If Lazarito waits until July, the Phillies and Padres are also expected to be big spenders then. The Phillies really wouldn’t surprise me, given their resources and their rebuild.
Sanchez has previously reported that Lazarito could command upwards of $20 million (which would then also require a $20 million overage tax penalty, so the total commitment could reach $40 million – an absurd amount for a 16-year-old prospect), and, I can’t help but think that, if it goes to that level, there’s only one team that will be involved – the Dodgers.
We’ll make sure to keep a close eye on this throughout the night and tomorrow. Obviously it would be great if the Cubs could reel in another top prospect in this period when they have the opportunity to do so, but, if the numbers get downright crazy, I’d be surprised if the Cubs were the top bidder. They may, instead, look at other Cuban prospects who will be available before this period is over.