Oscar Colas, regarded as one of the most talented players in the world not under contract with an MLB team, has defected from Cuba and will look to sign with a big-league team, according to ESPN's Jeff Passan. Colas must establish residency in a third country and be unblocked by the Office of Foreign Assets Control before MLB clears him to sign. That process could take months.
The Cuban government grants some players permission to play in Japan and Colas, 21, has spent the last two years with the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks. The left-handed hitter authored a .300/.353/.511 batting line with 12 homers in 73 games as right fielder and first baseman in 2019. He played the entire season as a 20-year-old.
Here's video of Colas socking a home run in his very first at-bat with the Hawks last season. Notice he has the same sort of leg kick hesitation you often see employed by Asian hitters.
Colas is more than a slugger. He has also worked to become a two-way player and has reportedly touched 95 mph from the left side. Colas has not pitched in Japan, so the pitching side of things is still a work in progress. Chances are he will look to join an MLB club that will allow him to pursue a career as a two-way player.
Because he is only 21, Colas will be subject to MLB's international hard cap system, meaning he will be limited to a minor-league contract and teams can only offer what they have available in their bonus pool. Small-market teams get the largest bonus pools ($6.5 million or so) and large-market teams get the smallest bonus pools ($5.4 million or so), generally speaking.
The international signing period opens every July 2 and, at this point, pretty much every club has spent their bonus pool for the 2019-20 signing period. Because Colas still has to be cleared to sign by MLB, it seems likely he will wait until the 2020-21 signing period opens on July 2 to sign. That ensures teams will have bonus pool money to spend and a bidding war can take place.