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Tomas leads latest influx of Cuban stars to hit market

MLB.com

Outfielder Yasmany Tomas has become a central figure this offseason, despite the fact that only the top scouts in the Dominican Republic and team officials visiting there have seen him hit, run or throw a ball in person since he left Cuba during the summer. That could change soon.

Tomas, 23, leads a new wave of Cuban players on the market who could end up at a Spring Training facility or big league stadium in the near future.

Outfielder Yasmany Tomas has become a central figure this offseason, despite the fact that only the top scouts in the Dominican Republic and team officials visiting there have seen him hit, run or throw a ball in person since he left Cuba during the summer. That could change soon.

Tomas, 23, leads a new wave of Cuban players on the market who could end up at a Spring Training facility or big league stadium in the near future.

In addition to Tomas, the list of free agents from Cuba who are eligible to sign includes outfielder Dian Toscano, 25, and right-handed pitcher Jorge Despaigne, 23. First baseman Jozzen Cuesta, 25, and left-handed pitcher Misael Siverio, 25, are also free agents.

Young players such as the highly touted infielder Yoan Moncada, 19, pitcher Yoan Lopez, 21, and second baseman Andy Ibanez, 21, are also expected to hit the market sometime this offseason. There are countless others, like third baseman Pavel Quesada, 25, in various stages of eligibility documentation.

Add veteran second baseman Hector Olivera, 29, to the list of potential free agents, and it marks the largest number of players from Cuba on the market in recent years. Olivera recently left the island and is believed to be training in the Dominican Republic and working on his paperwork. There are reports that second baseman Jose Miguel Fernandez, 26, a veteran of the country's national team and World Baseball Classic squad, has attempted to leave the island.

It's uncertain where the players will sign. It's also unclear what type of contract Tomas or any of his countrymen will command when they come to terms with a club. But here's what we know: Rusney Castillo signed a seven-year, $72 million deal with the Red Sox in August; Jose Abreu signed a six-year, $68 million contract with the White Sox last October; and Yasiel Puig inked a seven-year, $42 million deal with the Dodgers in June 2012.

We also know Tomas, who will turn 24 on Nov. 14, starred in a showcase in front of scouts from all 30 Major League teams in September. He has held private workouts for the D-backs, Dodgers, Mariners, Giants, Phillies, Rangers and Red Sox, and Tomas worked out twice for the Padres.

Back in Cuba, Tomas played five seasons for the Havana Industriales in the Serie Nacional. Overall, he hit 30 home runs with 104 RBIs in 205 regular-season games for the Industriales, beginning in 2008. However, he never played more than 69 games during the Serie Nacional's 90-game regular season and did not play during the 2010-11 season.

As for Moncada, he has been compared to Puig at the same age. The infielder still needs to be declared a free agent by Major League Baseball and cleared by U.S. Department of Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control, but he has established residency in Guatemala and has scheduled a showcase there on Wednesday.

Because Moncada is younger than 23 and has not played in a Cuban professional league for at least five seasons, he will be subjected to the international signing guidelines, but it's unclear if he will be eligible to sign during the 2014-15 international signing period, which started July 2 and ends June 15, 2015, or during the '15-16 signing period, which starts on July 2, 2015.

The Yankees, Red Sox and Rays, all of whom have spent more than 15 percent of their allotted bonus pools and are in the maximum penalty range for the 2014-15 signing period, are often linked to Moncada. The penalty includes a 100 percent tax on their pool overage and prohibits them from signing any pool-eligible player for more than $300,000 during the next two signing periods. In short, those three clubs will not be able to sign Moncada if he becomes eligible to sign after June 15.

The Cubs and Rangers, who are big players in Latin America but cannot sign an international player for more than $250,000 during the current signing period because they exceeded their 2013-14 bonus pools by more than 15 percent, could become players in the Moncada sweepstakes if he becomes eligible after June 15.

It's worth noting that the Angels recently agreed to an $8 million signing bonus with infielder Roberto Baldoquin. The 20-year-old, like Moncada, fell under the international signing guidelines. The Baldoquin deal sent the Angels into the maximum penalty, a sign that clubs are willing to blow past their bonus pools and into the penalty for the right player.

Despaigne, Ibanez and Lopez, who has a showcase scheduled for Saturday in the Dominican Republic, are also subject to the international signing guidelines.

Jesse Sanchez is a national reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @JesseSanchezMLB.