Cuban shortstop Yolbert Sanchez is eligible to sign a contract with a Major League club starting today, but it's unclear if he will sign with a team during the current international signing period that ends June 15 or wait until the next signing period that starts July 2."There isn't any
Cuban shortstop Yolbert Sanchez is eligible to sign a contract with a Major League club starting today, but it's unclear if he will sign with a team during the current international signing period that ends June 15 or wait until the next signing period that starts July 2.
"There isn't any rush for him to sign, just like there isn't any rush for MLB free agents to sign on the first day free agency opens up," said Sanchez's agent, Ulises Cabrera of Octagon. "There shouldn't be a signing watch on this because I don't anticipate it being a quick process."
One thing is certain: general managers across the league are paying close attention to the 21-year-old, who is considered to be the top amateur closest to playing in the big leagues.
According to sources, Baltimore general manager Mike Elias and a group from his front office are in the Dominican Republic to watch Sanchez and possibly make a deal. The Orioles, who came up short in their pursuit of Cuban outfielders Victor Victor Mesa and Victor Mesa Jr. and Cuban pitcher Sandy Gaston, still have close to $6 million in bonus pool money to spend on international prospects, the most money in baseball. The Orioles can still trade their international bonus pool money to other teams for prospects to build up their own Minor League system -- likely to teams interested in signing Sanchez -- if they do not sign the infielder themselves.
Should the Orioles decide to trade away their bonus money, the Twins, Brewers, Pirates, D-backs, Rockies, Indians, Royals, Tigers, Mariners, Blue Jays and Giants could be possible partners and thus be in a position to offer the Cuban infielder at least $3.5 million. (Clubs are allowed to acquire up to 75 percent of their initial international bonus pool.)
The Dodgers still have close to $1.4 million to spend during the current period, and the Phillies are next with close to $1 million remaining. The Cubs and the Red Sox each have an estimated $700,000 left to spend. Each of those teams can still add money through trades, but it's unlikely the possible money acquired will be enough to compete with the other teams.
It's worth noting that Rangers general manager Jon Daniels and Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow both scouted Sanchez in person in the Dominican Republic recently. The Rangers have approximately $850,000 to spend during the current international signing period and can still trade for more money to up their total money available to $4 million. The Astros, who cannot sign an international prospect for more than $300,000 until the next period, could be players in the Sanchez market along with the Mets and White Sox if the infielder decides to wait.
On the field, scouts believe Sanchez's polished glove might be ready for the big leagues now. He is also known for his average to slightly above-average arm as well as an average to slightly above-average running ability. He was the starting shortstop for the Havana Industriales and projected to be the starting shortstop for the Cuban national team before his defection last summer. He was the starting shortstop for Cuba's 23U team in Panama and on the country's 18U team.
Jesse Sanchez, who has been writing for MLB.com since 2001, is a national reporter based in Phoenix. Follow him on Twitter @JesseSanchezMLB and Facebook.