Cuban outfield prospect Jorge Ona has been declared a free agent by Major League Baseball, according to MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez (via Twitter). He’s now free to sign with any club, though the international bonus pool restrictions will apply.
Ona, 19, has long been expected to land with the Padres, and Sanchez suggests that’s still the case. At one point, it had seemed that he might be cleared to sign in the previous July 2 period, which would have opened up his market, but the league waited to act on his case for still-unknown reasons.
San Diego has already flown well past its international bonus allocation. That means that any amount that the club promises Ona — assuming they do get him — would require an equivalent payout in overage charges to the league. The Pads are already lined up for a two-year ban on $300K+ signings after this year’s class wraps up.
It remains to be seen, though, whether there’s any added competition for a player who is a bit closer to the majors than are typical July 2 prospects. And there’s upside aplenty: Ben Badler of Baseball America has suggested that Ona “has all the attributes to be a star right fielder,” describing a quick bat with power projection to go with good athleticism and a strong arm.