Raicel Iglesias Rumors

Quick Hits: Rays, Athletics, Bello, Nationals, Storen

The Rays and Athletics have done the most this offseason to solidify themselves as top teams, New York Daily News' Bill Madden writes. The Rays addressed all their major needs by re-signing James Loney and adding Grant Balfour and Ryan Hanigan. The Athletics replaced Balfour with Jim Johnson and Bartolo Colon with Scott Kazmir, and they further improved their bullpen with the additions of Luke Gregerson and Eric O'Flaherty. The Yankees also added plenty of talent, Madden notes, but they still have serious issues in their infield. Here are more notes from around baseball.

  • The Padres, Braves and Mets are among the teams interested in Cuban catcher Yenier Bello, MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez tweets. As MLBTR's Steve Adams recently noted, it's unclear what it might take to sign Bello, but he is not as highly-regarded a prospect as players like Jose Dariel Abreu and Yasiel Puig. Sanchez had previously connected Bello to the Dodgers, Cubs and Blue Jays.
  • The Diamondbacks have interest in Cuban pitchers Odrisamer Despaigne and Raciel Iglesias, Sanchez tweets. Despaigne was recently cleared to sign with an MLB team.
  • Nationals GM Mike Rizzo says he does not expect to give extensions to arbitration-eligible pitchers Doug Fister and Tyler Clippard, MLB.com's Bill Ladson tweets.
  • The Nats were briefly connected to free-agent closer Grant Balfour before Balfour signed by the Rays, and they probably would have traded Drew Storen if they'd managed to sign Balfour. But Storen isn't bothered by that idea, Ladson writes. "You don’t take it personally, it part of it. It’s flattering that other teams want you, too," says Storen. "You look at it from all angles. [The Nationals] are a great team. Obviously, I don’t want to go anywhere. It’s just part of the business. Nothing new."

Latest On Suk-Min Yoon

10:40am: Major League Baseball has taken the procedural step of requesting a status check on Yoon from the Korea Baseball Organization, according to a Yonhap News report (hat tip to Dan Kurtz of MyKBO.net).  The KBO confirmed that Yoon is indeed a free agent and able to sign anywhere.

TODAY, 9:05am: Yoon is traveling to the United States on Wednesday in hopes of securing a contract, according to a report from Korean news outlet Arirang (video link).

JAN. 10: The Red Sox and Twins are both interested in Korean right-hander Suk-Min Yoon, tweets Peter Gammons of the MLB Network and GammonsDaily.com. Gammons also spoke with one executive who guessed that the Giants are a good fit for Yoon as well. In an article at GammonsDaily.com earlier this week, Gammons noted that Yoon is one of many depth options still on the radar for the Red Sox. Cuban right-hander Raicel Iglesias is also among their potential targets.

It's been quiet on the Yoon front this offseason, as agent Scott Boras has had his hands full in negotiating contracts for Shin-Soo Choo, Jacoby Ellsbury and Mike Pelfrey while also trying to build the markets for Stephen Drew and Kendrys Morales. As MLBTR's Tim Dierkes noted in his free agent profile of Yoon, the 27-year-old has a low-90s fastball and was considered the second-best pitcher in the Korea Baseball Organization behind Hyun-jin Ryu prior to Ryu's jump to MLB. He has experience as both a starter and a closer.

The Twins have been connected to Yoon multiple times this offseason, but it's unclear whether or not they'd still have significant interest after adding Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes and re-signing Pelfrey. He could slot into Minnesota's bullpen, but the relief corps was one of the few strengths for last season's 96-loss Twins team.

Overnight Links: Padres, Rule 5, Rockies, Iglesias

MLBTR's 24/7 coverage of the 2013 Winter Meetings rolls on, with a few late night (or is it early morning?) links....

  • When the Astros and Padres both included players to be named later in Wednesday's Anthony Bass trade, our Steve Adams suggested the move was related to Thursday's Rule 5 draft, and Jim Callis of Baseball America confirms as much. According to Callis (Twitter links), the Astros and Padres have switched spots in the draft, with San Diego likely to select a pitcher first overall.
  • Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News tweets that the Yankees expect to lose players in Thursday's Rule 5 draft, naming Tommy Kahnle and Danny Burawa as two pitchers who could be selected.
  • The Rockies are looking to add a left-handed reliever and have the money to be flexible, tweets Troy Renck of the Denver Post.
  • While they've been linked to major trade candidates like David Price and have one of their own in Matt Kemp, the Dodgers expect to leave Orlando without having completed a major deal, GM Ned Coletti said Wednesday, according to MLB.com's Ken Gurnick.
  • A number of scouts are going directly from the winter meetings to Mexico to watch a showcase for Cuban right-hander Raicel Iglesias, tweets Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports. The workout is scheduled for Friday.
  • The Rangers can afford to approach the free agent and trade markets with patience, says Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com, writing that Texas isn't necessarily under any pressure to make another big move.

Raicel Iglesias Defects From Cuba

NOV. 19: Iglesias has now established residency in Mexico, tweets MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez. The next step in his process will be gaining clearance from the United States Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) and from Major League Baseball to sign with MLB teams.

NOV. 6: The number of recent Cuban defectors continues to grow, as reports from Diario de Cuba and the Havana Times have indicated that right-hander Raicel Iglesias has successfully defected from the country. Ibrahim Rojas of CMHS Radio Caibarién tells MLBTR that Iglesias is currently in Mexico.

Iglesias, 23, was detained on his first attempt to defect after running out of food and water while hiding in the mountains. In his second effort, which reportedly took place on Oct. 9, he successfully fled the country by sea. Iglesias is said by Ben Badler of Baseball America to possess a 92-95 mph fastball with a swing-and-miss breaking ball but questionable control. Badler feels that Iglesias would likely have to begin his pro career in the U.S. by starting in the minor leagues.

Because Iglesias is 23 years old and has more than three years of professional experience, he can sign for any amount and will not count against a team's international signing pool.

Raicel Iglesias Detained Trying To Defect From Cuba

Right-hander Raicel Iglesias has been detained by Cuban authorities for attempting to defect, three sources have told Diario De Cuba (h/t Ben Badler of Baseball America). An employee of the Dirección de Deportes en Nueva Gerona confirmed Iglesias is being detained and will no longer train with the local team.

Diaro De Cuba reports the 23-year-old was hiding in the mountains of Isla de la Juventud until Thursday when he left searching for food and water. The report says Iglesias attempted to leave Cuba September 22 in the area of Punta de Piedra, but failed. Diaro De Cuba quotes Lázaro Ricardo Pérez, an independent journalist, as saying Iglesias was hiding with several individuals, including his brother, and all were dehyrdated. Pérez added rumors of the right-hander's escape became public Tuesday alerting authorities while Iglesias was still in hiding.

Iglesias, who impressed scouts on Cuba's U.S. tour where he hit 92-95 mph on the gun and made batters miss often with his breaking ball, according to Badler, could be released from custody as early as today, but it is not known whether he will face charges.

International Notes: Jose Abreu, Raicel Iglesias

Earlier in the week it was reported that Cuban infielder Alexander Guerrero could sign with a team soon. There are four or five teams who have seen the 26-year-old Guerrero work out five or six times, according to new agent Scott Boras. Here's the latest on a couple of other Cuban names who figure to make headlines in the offseason...

  • Cuban first baseman Jose Dariel Abreu will have two open showcases for all teams next week, according to Ben Badler of Baseball America.  Abreu will audition for teams at the Yankees’ Dominican facility on Monday and Tuesday and It’s expected that he will field grounders at first base, take batting practice, then face some live pitching.  However, he isn’t expected to play in any games or simulated games.
  • Pitcher Raicel Iglesias is rumored to have defected from Cuba, writes Nelson Acosta of Reuters.  The 23-year-old impressed scouts on Cuba's U.S. tour where he hit 92-95 mph on the gun and made batters miss often with his breaking ball, according to Badler, who also passes along a highlight reel of the hurler.  Right now, it appears that Iglesias' biggest problem is control.  At 5'11" and 165 pounds, he's also a bit undersized.  Badler feels that Iglesias is likely to begin his career in the minors.
Steve Adams contributed to this post.

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