Yoelkis Cespedes, brother of Mets outfielder Yoenis, has deserted the Cuban National Team participating in the Can-Am League, according to multiple sources.
A player on the Cuban National Team corroborated the desertion. The squad also activated from Cuba shortstop Alexander Ayala to replace Cespedes on its active roster.
Cespedes, a 21-year-old center fielder for Granma in the Cuban National Series and considered a five-tool player, is expected to attempt to be declared a free agent and seek a contract with a Major League club. Because he is under 25 and has fewer than six seasons as a professional in a foreign league, he will be subject to MLB's international signing rules, by which clubs are each subject to a spending cap for amateur international free agents. Each year's international signing period begins July 2 and continues through June 15 of the following year.
Cespedes hit .250 with a double in the 2017 World Baseball Classic. He was hitting .167 (3-for-18) this season in the Can-Am League.
One of the bigger names among players still in Cuba to this point, Cespedes could be a one of the more prominent international free agents sought by Major League clubs once he is declared a free agent by MLB.
Yoenis Cespedes, now 33, left Cuba and signed a four-year, $36 million contract with the A's in 2012. He is a two-time All-Star, driving in more than 100 runs three times. He has not played since July 2018, first because of surgeries on both of his heels and then a fractured right ankle he sustained at home in May.