Nineteen-year-old Cuban outfielder Luis Robert was declared a free agent yesterday, and will be free to sign with a team starting May 20. At 6-foot-3, 205 pounds, he’s considered one of the best international prospects on the market—second only to the already legendary Shohei Otani.
The right-hander defected from Cuba in November and has since settled in Haiti. He’s been holding showcases for scouts in the Dominican Republic. Before that, he slashed .401/.526/.687 with 12 home runs in 232 plate appearances in Cuba’s Serie Nacional league.
Courtesy of Baseball America, here is a video from one of those showcases that shows Robert whacking the hell out of the ball for 17 straight minutes:
The 2016-17 free agency period ends July 2. If Robert inks a deal before then, he won’t be limited by the new CBA’s hard cap on international signings, which gives each team between $4.75 million to $5.75 million to spend. Certain teams are stymied from making a play, however, because they’re unable to offer the sort of multi-million dollar deal Robert will certainly command. Rather than hard caps, the previous CBA slapped teams that overspent internationally with penalties that curbed their spending for the following two free agency periods. Since this is the last year teams can blow past their bonus pool limits, the teams that have already busted the budget this year are more likely to sign Robert, since they’re not currently subject to any hard caps and are already liable for overspending penalties going forward.
According to Baseball America, teams that fit that profile and are reportedly interested in throwing large chunks of money at the talented teen are the A’s, Cardinals, Astros, Reds, Padres, and White Sox (who haven’t blown their 2016-17 budget yet but aren’t serving any penalties, and likely would be willing to for a top prospect like Robert).
If you’re a fan of one of those teams, you’ll want them to sign this strong dude.