Cuban outfielder Yadiel Hernandez, who defected from the island late last June, has been declared a free agent by Major League Baseball today, reports Baseball America’s Ben Badler. The 28-year-old corner fielder had a showcase back in February that reportedly drew scouts from 25 teams.
Because Hernandez is older than 23 and has more than five years of professional experience in Cuba, he’s exempt from international signing bonuses and free to sign a Major League contract for any amount. A career .324/.449/.487 batter in Cuba, Hernandez has enough pop in his bat to hit 10 to 15 homers in a season, Badler writes, but the left-handed hitter’s on-base skills are a likelier source of value to big league teams. Indeed, Hernandez walked at an exceptional 17.5 percent clip throughout his career in Cuba, and his 380 walks drawn in those six seasons dwarf his 285 strikeouts.
Unlike many international free agents, Hernandez could conceivably help a big league club in short order, but it’s also important to note that he hasn’t played regularly in a game setting since the 2014-15 season in Cuba’s Serie Nacional. As such, it seems likely that he’d require some time in the minor leagues if for no other reason than to get up to speed and get some reps at the plate and in the field.
Badler adds that since his open showcase in late February, Hernandez has been hosting private workouts for interested clubs. He’s a client of Rep 1 Baseball.