While many are worried about big-name MLB free agents that have yet to sign, many teams are focused on signing another player getting little major press.
Most of the major press is focused on MLB free agents by the name of Machado, Harper, and Kimbrel as each awaits a contract while Spring Training camps have already opened. For a number of teams who are not in the market for those big names, however, they are still in pursuit of potentially another major name on the market, Yolbert Sanchez.
Who is Yolbert Sanchez, you may ask? In August of 2016, a Cuban baseball site endeavored to discuss the top players remaining in Cuba. While not an extensive list, on that list of the 10 best players left in Cuba, only one, Luis Robert, has come to Major League Baseball, signing with the Chicago White Sox.
Sanchez will now be the second on that list to make the jump to a major league team. Sanchez was cleared by Major League Baseball to sign with any team that he would like as of February 5th. Eric Longenhagen of Fangraphs mentioned that Sanchez’s agent had let teams know that there was a $2 million bonus waiting for his client if he waits until the next signing period, starting July 2, 2019, in order to sign.
Currently, only the Baltimore Orioles could beat that offer with their available international funds, and Sanchez could make significant sense for the Orioles as a foray into the international market.
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While he’s not an elite prospect with All-Star ceiling like Robert may possess, Sanchez has a very mature skill set that could attract a team like the Orioles. Sanchez’s defensive skills at shortstop are elite, and he has plus speed that he knows how to use offensively, but while he’s able to make plenty of contact, it’s not very impactful contact on the offensive side.
Sanchez rarely struck out in his time in Serie Nacional, and he was just a teenager at the time, hitting .297/.338/.345 over 128 combined games, striking out less than 10% of the time.
Whether the Orioles will use part (or even all) of their $6 million of available slot funds will be interesting to watch, but the need is certainly there for the Orioles for a shortstop in the organization.
While other teams may be tracking MLB free agents over the next two months, Yolbert Sanchez will be a free agent of interest to follow this spring.