Cuban outfielder Yusnier Diaz has been granted free agency by Major League Baseball and is now free to sign with any team, MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez reports on Twitter. The 18-year-old placed 17th among Cuban prospects in Baseball America’s recent ranking (subscription link).
Diaz is a speedy and athletic player who has shown solid offensive tools in recent showcases, Sanchez explained recently. He is said to have at least some promise in the power department, and profiles as a possible option in center field.
As BA’s Ben Badler wrote today, Diaz was an obvious choice to take home rookie-of-the-year honors in Cuba’s Serie Nacional before he decided to leave his home island, as he put up a .348/.447/.440 slash line. Badler credits him with plus speed and arm strength. As that stat line shows, and as Badler explains further in the above-linked ranking article, there’s some length in Diaz’s swing and will need to build out his frame to increase his meager power output.
There haven’t been any reports specifically linking teams to Diaz, who is subject to international signing limitations. But as Badler notes, he’ll likely be too expensive for the clubs that are currently banned from issuing bonuses of greater than $300K to international players. As Badler adds, Diaz and other top Cuban players who’ll be eligible to sign in the current July 2 period could ultimately end up landing with those organizations that have already blown past their signing pools (meaning that they are already set to serve limitations periods after this signing season).