The White Sox offseason has been focused on trading away their veteran assets for young promising talent. While the team is still involved in the trade market, recently Chicago has been scouring the market adding potential bounce-back free agents on minor league deals.
The team has signed Geovany Soto, Cody Asche and Everth Cabrera. All three should have a decent chance of making the major league roster.
A new report states that the Sox are interested in another type of free agent. However this free agent is much different than the aforementioned three.
Ben Badler is a national writer for Baseball America. His recently reported that highly touted Cuban prospect Luis Robert has defected and should be an MLB free agent soon.
Of Robert’s potential Badler wrote:
Robert is a 19-year-old outfielder scouts have followed since he was 15. While departures have drained Cuba’s talent pool in recent years, Robert was one of the five best players in Cuba. With a strong, powerful build at 6-foot-3, 185 pounds, Robert stands out for his physicality, athleticism and performance record, both in Cuba’s youth national leagues and in Serie Nacional. His bat speed and raw power from the right side are plus, with the speed to play center field at least for now, though as he fills out he could end up in a corner. There is some swing-and-miss in his game, but at the time he left Cuba, Robert was leading the league in OPS.
Robert has been downright dominant during the 2016-17 season in Cuba’s top league Serie Nacional. According to Badler, Robert hit .410 with 12 homeruns and 11 stolen bases in 232 plate appearances. If he had qualified, he would’ve led the league in On Base and Slugging Percentage.
Robert seems like the real deal and has the potential to be an impact play upon his arrival in the minor leagues. While he would need more time in the minors, Robert could be the next great Cuban prospect a la Jose Abreu and Yoenis Cespedes.
As we all know, the White Sox were the team to sign Abreu as a free agent out of Cuba. According to Badler, he may not be the last big-name international free agent the team signs.
The White Sox, a team that has had success in the Cuban market and has typically pursued players with similarities to Robert, are one other club that has not exceeded its bonus pool that sources have pointed to as a possible landing spot for Robert.
If the Sox were able to sign Robert they would have another top prospect in their system. He would be one of the team’s outfielders of the future, and a threat in the middle of the Sox lineup. His blend of power and speed would be deadly upon his arrival in the MLB.
However the White Sox face a major problem if they want to sign Robert. The Cuban prospect is subject to the international bonus pool. The MLB agreed to a new CBA, changing how teams sign international free agents. But that CBA doesn’t go into effect until after the 2016-17 signing period ends on June 15th.
If the White Sox were to sign Robert, they would undoubtedly go over their allotted international bonus pool cap space. If they were to do that, they would be unable to sign any of the new international free agents in the new signing period, which begins on July 2nd.
While Robert is an elite prospect, it would be hard for the White Sox to give up their right to sign any other international free agents. We have seen the Cubs and Padres attack international free agency hard during their rebuilds, with the White Sox now facing the same situation, it might be best to bring in the most talent possible. Signing Robert wouldn’t allow them to do that.
Regardless, Badler claims that the White Sox could be one of the biggest contenders for Roberts services. Perhaps pairing Robert with Yoan Moncada and Jose Abreu could give the White Sox an impressive Cuban core of the future.
White Sox fans should be on their edge of their seat waiting for the next big trade. But one of the biggest stories of this team’s offseason would be bringing the top Cuban prospect in Luis Robert to the South Side.
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