Yoelkis Cespedes, the half-brother of New York Mets outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, is expected to be declared a free agent by Major League Baseball on March 18, according to MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez. Cespedes defected last June, while the Cuban National Team was partaking in an exhibition series in New York against teams from the independent Canadian American (informally referred to as the Can-Am) Association.
Cespedes, 22, is said to be planning a showcase event. He isn't a complete stranger to scouts, however, as he's performed in international competition. Most notably, he participated in the 2017 World Baseball Classic, going 4 for 16 with a double and six strikeouts in five games. As Sanchez has noted elsewhere, he's viewed as a potential five-tool talent who has bulked up in recent months. FanGraphs' Eric Longenhagen wrote in July that Cespedes has a "barrel-chested build" and "loud tools including an [elite] arm," but that his at-bats are "erratic."
Because Cespedes is younger than 25 and has less than six years of professional experience, his contract will be subjected to the league's collectively bargained rules about international amateur free agents. Essentially, that means he'll have to sign a minor-league pact with a signing bonus pulled from a team's strictly allocated pool.
If Cespedes is concerned about maximizing his signing bonus, he could put off signing with a team until the next international signing period. (Each period begins on July 2 and stretches unti June 15 of the following year.) It's possible that Cespedes would prefer to sign as quickly as possible, so as to begin his journey to the majors.
The older Cespedes sibling, Yoenis, originally signed a four-year deal worth $30 million with the Oakland Athletics in February 2012.