Free-agent outfielder Yadiel Hernandez hosted a showcase for clubs last Wednesday, and Ben Badler of Baseball America now reports that the Marlins hosted a private workout for the 28-year-old at Marlins Park on Saturday, with president of baseball operations Michael Hill among those in attendance. Badler also lists the D-backs, Brewers and Rockies as teams that have been connected to Hernandez, who is exempt from international spending limitations due to his age and professional experience in Cuba.
Hernandez was recently declared a free agent by Major League Baseball and is free to sign at any time for any amount. He brings with him a career .324/.449/.487 batting line over the life of 2167 pro plate appearances in Cuba and is known for a discerning eye at the plate and excellent contact skills, though he does also possess some modest pop. (Badler recently noted that he felt Hernandez could hit 10 to 15 homers in a big league season.) Hernandez struck out in just 13 percent of his career plate appearances in Cuba and walked in 17.5 percent of his trips to the plate. Of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean that one should expect similar rates in the Majors, where Hernandez will face higher-quality pitching. It’s not uncommon for even the most successful Cuban hitters to see their strikeout rates increase by five to eight percent upon jumping to MLB, and Hernandez isn’t as highly regarded as some recent success stories were during their free agencies (e.g. Jose Abreu, Yoenis Cespedes).
The Marlins are somewhat of a curious fit for Hernandez unless they believe him to be more of a fourth outfielder than an everyday bat, as their long-term outfield is seemingly set with Christian Yelich in left field, Marcell Ozuna in center field and Giancarlo Stanton in right field. The D-backs, on paper, have a fairly set outfield rotation for the foreseeable future as well, with David Peralta, A.J. Pollock (once healthy) and Yasmany Tomas in addition to a pair of young infielders, Chris Owings and Brandon Drury, seeing time on the outfield grass, too. Beyond that, Arizona has a fairly promising outfield candidate in Socrates Brito in the upper minors.
Colorado and Milwaukee are a bit less settled, if for no other reason than the potential trade candidacy of star-caliber players Carlos Gonzalez and Ryan Braun (more so Braun, given Colorado’s 21-21 start to the season). Both could see their names floated on the trade market this summer, although both organizations also have highly regarded outfield prospects of their own that are in reasonable proximity to the Majors (namely, David Dahl in Colorado and Brett Phillips in Milwaukee).
Hernandez would almost certainly require some time in the minors to get comfortable in a game setting once again, whenever and wherever he ultimately chooses to sign. His last full season in Cuba came in 2014-15 (their season is played in the winter), so it’d be understandable if Hernandez came with a fair bit of rust. Those wishing to get a lengthier look at Hernandez can reference a full scouting report from Badler’s Top 20 Cuban prospects last season. A subscription is required, though with the 2016 Draft and the July 2 international free agent kickoff both looming, it’s well worth the price of admission for those seeking insight into the upcoming waves of amateur talent that will soon be available to MLB clubs.