The Dodgers have gone from spendthrifts to spendswifts. From Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com:
According to an industry source, the Dodgers have agreed to a multiyear deal worth more than $40 million with 21-year-old international prospect Yasiel Puig, a 6-foot-3, 210-pound outfielder from Cuba.
The Dodgers haven’t commented on or confirmed the signing.
Puig (pronounced Pweeg) was declared a free agent Wednesday, not long after establishing temporary residency in Mexico, and was eventually cleared by the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).
In order to avoid being subject to new CBA guidelines that will limit spending on international prospects to $2.9 million per team without penalty, Puig must sign the record-setting deal, have the contract approved by Major League Baseball and pass a physical before Monday.
The Cubs and White Sox also expressed interest in Puig.
A top prospect in the island’s premier league, the Cuban National Series (Serie Nacional), Puig hit .276 with five home runs during his first campaign with Cienfuegos in 2008-09 and had a breakout year the next season, hitting .330 with 17 home runs and 78 RBIs. He did not play for Cienfuegos during the 2011-12 seasons because he was being disciplined for attempting to defect. …
Here’s more on Puig from J.P Breen of Fangraphs:
… Puig possesses raw power — and actually showed game-power back in the 2010-2011 season with 17 home runs — but Ben Badler of Baseball America recently noted that the most recent scouting reports on the young outfielder have been extremely underwhelming. …
Now, statistics from the Cuban Serie Nacional should obviously be taken with a grain of salt. The level of competition is perhaps not even comparable to what Puig would potentially see in Triple-A, but legitimate similarities exist between the numbers Yoenis Cespedes compiled in 2010-2011 and what Puig racked up in the same year.
The obvious difference is the significantly higher home run total from Cespedes. It’s that level of power that has allowed Cespedes to transition directly to the major leagues and post a .222 ISO as a 26-year-old without any experience in the United States.
The remainder of the numbers — the on-base percentage, strikeout-to-walk ratio, etc. — are comparable. Even the doubles are comparable. Puig reportedly has above-average speed and was once considered the “fastest player in Cuban baseball” before defecting, so it’s not overly surprising that Puig would collect more triples than Cespedes.
The issue is that no one can ever confidently project how a Cuban baseball player will transition to professional baseball in the states. The statistics have little correlation due to the level of competition, and the players have to adjust to more than just the players in the United States. They also have to transition to the lifestyle, the culture, and the language. That can be extremely overwhelming for anyone, much less a 21-year-old with ambition and plenty of cash, thanks to a hefty signing bonus. …
And from Ben Badler of Baseball America:
… Reports on Puig, 21, have been modest, and other than a few light workouts this weekend, teams are working off limited information. He was suspended this past season in Cuba—some sources believe it was due to his attempts to leave the country, though some teams have conflicting information—so scouts haven’t been able to see Puig in game condition since June 2011 for the Cuban national B team at the World Port Tournament in Rotterdam. The Rangers are the only team that Baseball America’s sources have linked to Puig.
“How can we evaluate someone like that?” asked one Latin American director.