Top Cuban prospect Luis Robert has been declared a free agent by Major League Baseball, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports on Twitter. He’ll now be eligible to sign with any team as soon as May 20th, MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez tweets, though there are some constraints at play.
Because he’s eligible to sign in the current international free agent signing period, Robert will have an opportunity to ink a deal that isn’t limited by the new caps that will enter effect on July 2nd. But the youngster will be subject to the existing international rules, meaning certain clubs can’t offer him more than a $300K bonus while others would need to pay a 100% tax on any bonus money. (We covered the details on those clubs when it was reported Robert was heading stateside.)
Robert, a 19-year-old outfielder, has reportedly drawn wide interest from around the league. Last we checked in, a variety of organizations were planning to take closer scouting looks. If there’s a favorite at this point, it could be the White Sox, though they’d be entering the penalty box by striking a deal with Robert. Numerous other organizations have already blown past their bonus pools, so going on to sign Robert would mean ponying up double his bonus but wouldn’t change their future international spending eligibility.
The chief reason for the keen interest in Robert is his advanced power bat, as Ben Badler of Baseball America explained in a recent profile. He’s also currently athletic enough to play in center field, though there are questions as to whether he’ll stay there in the long run. Teams are now getting a chance to see more of Robert in person, and he’s currently planning another showcase in May, per Sanchez (via Twitter).