Cuban outfielder Yasel Puig defects, seeks free agency
Baseball's next big Cuban import? Meet outfielder Yasel Puig, who's defecting and seeking free agency. He may be a bigger score than Yoenis Cespedes or Jorge Soler.
Cuban outfielder Yasel Puig may have a higher ceiling than Yoenis Cespedes of the A's and Jorge Soler of the Cubs. That's important because the 21-year-old outfielder has defected from Cuba and is currently seeking to establish residence in Mexico.
"As of Monday morning, I submitted information to Major League Baseball and the Players Association that he has taken up residency in Mexico and will shortly establish legal permanent residency in Mexico," Puig's agent Jaime Torres said [MLB.com]. "We should have documentation of his legal permanent residency in Mexico soon and as soon as I have that, I will submit it to Major League Baseball and I hope and expect that he will be declared a free agent immediately."
Puig will have a showcase for major-league scouts later this week in Mexico City. His combination of youth and success at the upper reaches of Cuban baseball figures to make him a coveted talent on the market. Puig did not play last season in Cuba because he was being disciplined for a previous attempt at defection, but in 2009-10 in Serie Nacional, Cuba's top league, he batted .330 with 17 home runs.
As the MLB.com story notes, Puig must first be declared a free agent by Major League Baseball and then cleared by the Treasury Department before he's free to engage in formal negotiations.
(Image courtesy of Players of El Cubano Beisbol.)