Two of Cuba’s most intriguing remaining prospects — outfielder Guillermo Heredia and righty Vladimir Gutierrez — appear to be nearing free agency, according to a report from Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com (Twitter links).
The 24-year-old Heredia has established residency in Mexico and on Monday will submit his application to MLB to be declared a free agent. Baseball America’s Ben Badler rated Heredia just outside his top-ten list of Cuban prospects last fall, though he notes that the outfielder has been eclipsed by some other players since. Though he has at least one big power season to his credit in Cuba, Heredia’s calling cards are his defense in center and on-base ability.
Gutierrez, 19, is just days away from residency in Mexico, per Sanchez, and will presumably make his own application for free agency in short order thereafter. He has been training in Mexico since creating a stir by leaving his club during the Caribbean Series. Badler credits Gutierrez with a projectable frame and advanced curve, making him one of those players that has gained on Heredia in recent months.
Heredia will be exempt from international bonus limits, and he could field wide interest. The younger Gutierrez, meanwhile, will fall within the parameters of the spending limits, meaning that he will be off limits for those clubs that are currently serving two-year signing bans and that whichever club signs him will have to stay within its pool allocation or face a hefty overage tax and signing timeout.