Two interesting Cuban free agents, outfielders Alexei Bell and Yordanis Linares, have officially been declared free agents, according to MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez (via Twitter). They’ll be able to sign at any point, though Linares will be subject to international signing restrictions.
Bell, 32, has opened play in Mexico with one long ball, six hits, and three walks against a lone strikeout in 23 plate appearances. He’s put up strong numbers in a lengthy career in Cuba, and put on several recent showcases, but his market outlook remains unclear. While Bell has shown home run power at times, Ben Badler of Baseball America says that his calling card is impeccable plate discipline and a big arm.
Linares, meanwhile, is 27 years of age but has a minimal track record in Serie Nacional. That being said, it’s a pretty good one: he’s slashed .312/.387/.452 with 15 home runs over 767 plate appearances. As Badler explains, Linares is a small-framed player who is capable of playing center field. He’s expected to need time in the minors upon signing.
The pair of outfielders are part of an increasingly varied class of Cuban players in various stages of moving toward the majors. In particular, numerous younger talents have departed the island nation in search of big league opportunity, throwing yet more intrigue into an already complicated set of July 2 signing period factors. While Bell can sign just like any other free agent, teams considering Linares will need to weigh his impact on their other international spending.