As we await the outcome of the Twins’ negotiations with Korean slugger Byung-ho Park and the posting of fellow Korean All-Star Ah-seop Son, let’s take a look at some other news pertaining to the international market:
- Another exciting young Cuban player could soon be on his way to a major league organization, according to a report from MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez. 16-year-old infielder Miguel Vargas — the son of former Cuban star Lazaro Vargas — has defected from the island with his father. (The elder Vargas is no minor figure in the country: he played on two gold medal-winning teams and was the manager and director of the Havana Industriales.) As Sanchez notes, Vargas is one of several younger players who will look to become eligible for this July 2 period (if they can secure an exemption) or the one that follows it. While most prominent Cuban players who have joined the league in recent years were older and more established, we seem to be experiencing an increasing trend of younger players looking to sign at the same age as their counterparts in other parts of Latin America.
- 19-year-old Cuban outfielder Jorge Ona falls in between the veteran types and the just-eligible teenagers. As Ben Badler of Baseball America writes, Ona took the sixth spot on BA’s latest ranking of Cuban talent, and he’s the best player who has left the island in search of a big league job. Ona is still waiting to be declared a free agent, but Badler says he stands a good chance of qualifying to sign during the present signing period. There’s new video of the youngster available at the link.
- Twins slugger Kennys Vargas — no known relation to the gentlemen of the same surname discussed above — has drawn interest from the Korea Baseball Organization, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press reports. Selling the rights to the 25-year-old slugger could help balance out the team’s prospective signing of Park, who would in some regards take the place of Vargas in the organization. Club VP of player personnel Mike Radcliff said that moving Vargas “wouldn’t be in play unless or until we got Park done.” Of couse, Vargas himself would need to agree to a move and reach a contract with a KBO club. The Twins have been among the most active MLB teams in sending players to Korea. (From a player’s perspective, there’s often quite a bit more money and fame to be found abroad. Eric Thames, for example, has turned into a KBO star.)
- Meanwhile, 24-year-old Twins outfielder Oswaldo Arcia has told the team that he is not interested in going to Asia at this point. “The player has to agree,” Radcliff said. “He has no interest in doing that. He wants to be a major league star.” Arcia is coming off of a tough season — he was demoted and struggled at Triple-A — but has shown himself to be at least a competent major league hitter already. While he’s also a poorly-regarded defender, Arcia would still presumably draw interest from other big league clubs. He may well end up getting a chance elsewhere, as Berardino notes that he’s out of minor league options.