Cuban star Yulieski Gurriel, who reportedly defected recently with younger brother Lourdes Gurriel, may have an easier path to free agency than had been expected. Jorge Ebro of El Nuevo Herald reports that both brothers have moved across the border from the Dominican Republic to Haiti, which is a popular launching point for Cuban players seeking to make it to the majors. (Spanish language link.) Importantly, per the report, the 31-year-old infielder has already established Panamanian residency, which might well provide a faster route to the open market since some hurdles would already be cleared. Ebro provides other interesting details on the situation of the famed elder Gurriel brother, who is apparently looking to take his last chance at playing in the majors in his prime. Though he’ll soon turn 32, Gurriel is considered a prime talent and will create an interesting market situation — remember, quality infielders such as Ian Desmond, David Freese, and Juan Uribe remain unsigned — if and when he is deemed eligible to sign. The younger Lourdes, meanwhile, still appears likely to wait until October to ink an agreement, when he’ll be old enough to fall ouside of international signing restrictions.
Here are some more notes on the international market:
- The Brewers, Cardinals, Phillies, and Rangers are expected to have an active year in the coming July 2 market, MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez reports, though it’s not yet clear to what extent any of those teams will be willing to go past their pool allocation. We’ve already heard that the Braves, Nationals, and Padres are expected to make significant moves this summer, likely incurring maximum penalties for exceeding their international spending limits. With numerous big spenders on the sidelines after blowing past their own caps in prior years, there’s some opportunity for other clubs to step in and seek to sign their own slate of talented youngsters out of Latin America.
- Sanchez goes on to discuss the market more generally, explaining that expectations are the non-Cuban market will produce a few significant bonuses (around $3MM to $4MM) with several other players receiving seven-figure paydays as well. He further notes that there figures to be quite a bit of competition as teams capped at $300K bonuses look to add lower-bonus names. The Angels, Diamondbacks, Rays, Red Sox, and Yankees are halfway through their two-year restricted periods, while the Blue Jays, Cubs, Dodgers, Giants, and Royals are set to join them for the coming signing period.
- There’s a notable showcase event being held today in Santo Domingo that will feature many of the players being targeted by the aforementioned teams, as Sanchez further reports. 59 prospects from seven nations will be there, including top Venezuelan youngster Kevin Maitan (who is favored to sign with the Braves). Other intriguing players are on hand, per Sanchez, including Mexican outfielder Tirso Ornelas, Panamanian righty Edisson Gonzalez, and Dominican outfielder Jeisson Rosario.