The Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks have declared Oscar Colas a free agent, MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez reports (Twitter links). The move ends months of controversy between the club, Nippon Professional Baseball, and Colas’ representatives over amount of team control the Hawks held over Colas as per the terms of his original contract.
The next step for Colas is an application for MLB free agency. Once this is granted, Colas will be eligible to be signed under standard international signing rules, and will in all likelihood be available when the next int’l signing window opens on January 15. As a reminder, this is the 2020-21 window that would have normally began last July 2, except the signing period was pushed back due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sanchez writes that Colas’ representatives are already working to arrange a scouting showcase for their client, a 22-year-old who holds some potential as a two-way player. Colas’ official pitching experience is limited to 3 1/3 innings in the Serie Nacional (Cuba’s top league) during the 2018-19 season, though he is said to possess a fastball that can hit 95mph.
There is much more data on Colas as a batter, as he hit .305/.381/.487 over 273 plate appearances in the Serie Nacional, and then posted an .825 OPS over 21 PA for the Hawks in 2019. (Colas also hit well for the Hawks’ minor league squad in the Western League.) In the field, Colas has played both first base and as a corner outfielder during his brief pro career.
Assuming no snags in his paperwork and clearances, Colas is a very intriguing entry into the 2020-21 international signing market. Many teams have already committed large chunks of their int’l signing pools to other players, so the market for Colas may be determined by how much remaining pool space certain teams have available. Pool funds also cannot be traded during this year’s signing period.