Chicago Cubs Among Teams Scouting Cuban Outfield Prospect Luis Pino

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Chicago Cubs Among Teams Scouting Cuban Outfield Prospect Luis Pino

Chicago Cubs

The Chicago Cubs are among the teams looking at the latest top Cuban prospect to become available in International Free Agency, 16-year-old outfielder Luis Pino.

Together with the Rays, A’s, Red Sox, Padres, White Sox, and Giants, ESPN reports that the Cubs have scouted Pino since his legal defection to the Dominican Republic. The Rays and A’s are cited as the leader’s with bonus offers exceeding $1 million (though note that nothing can be finalized until the next IFA period opens up on January 15).

Pino does not show up in the pre-period rankings at MLB Pipeline or Baseball America, but I can’t help but wonder if that’s because of the timing of his departure from Cuba and the change in the dates for this period. Back when those rankings were put together last summer, it wouldn’t necessarily have been known that the 16-year-old Pino was going to become available in the current period.

For that reason, too, the fact that Pino is still looking at a possible seven-figure bonus is indicative of major talent. Most budgets are already spoken for at this point, so allocating $1 million plus to a player who wasn’t expected to be in this class is a tall task, and means some teams clearly believe he’s among the top prospects in this class.

Of course, to that end, it’s not at all clear that the Cubs will have the funds to sign Pino. By rule, they will annually start among the big-market teams with the smallest bonus pools, and they’ve already got a “deal in place” with top Dominican shortstop prospect Cristian Hernandez, which will eat up a huge chunk of their spending pool. Teams can acquire IFA pool space in trade, though, so it’s possible the Cubs could work to add some flexibility between now and January 15, when the next period opens up.

Whether the Cubs make a real play for Pino or not, I’m very happy to see that they’re still involved in processes like these, despite the financial challenges the organization faces. Keeping things going at the amateur level – and spending aggressively there wherever possible – is going to be critical to the long-term health of the organization, and it would be inexcusable to suffer a dead zone period in scouting and development because of the pandemic. Dollars spent here go further than any other place in baseball.

Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.