Prospect Luis Robert Leaves Cuba
By Jeff Todd | January 9, 2017 at 10:37pm CDT
Top Cuban outfield prospect Luis Robert left his home island in
November, according to Ben Badler of Baseball America. His whereabouts
are not given in the report, but it seems he is working towards joining
a major league organization.
Clubs figure to line up for a chance at the 19-year-old Robert, a
right-handed-hitting outfielder who Badler labels one of Cuba's five
best talents, citing his plus bat speed and power. Though he may
ultimately turn into a corner outfielder, Robert is currently capable of
playing center. Already a productive player in his age-18 season, Robert
turned things up a notch in his most recent Serie Nacional action.
Before he departed, Robert was hitting a robust .401/.526/.687 with 12
home runs and 11 steals over 232 plate appearances. That put him at or
near the top of the leaderboard in most major offensive categories —
certainly, rather a notable output given his age (even with the number
of talented players that have departed Cuba's top league in recent years).
As Badler explains at length, Robert's timeline for obtaining clearance
will play a major role in determining his earning capacity and ultimate
landing spot. Because the old CBA's international rules will apply
through to the end of the current July 2 signing period — which wraps up
on June 15 of this year — it's still possible that Robert will become
eligible to sign under the current system. If not, he'll be subject to
the tighter cap that is set to go into effect under the new CBA (which
Badler detailed in full right here).
While Robert could certainly still land a significant payday under
either regime, the current one holds out the hope for the greatest
riches. That's because it allows organizations to spend at leisure, so
long as they are willing to sacrifice their ability to dole out $300K+
bonuses for two future years and pay a 100% tax on the amount they go
past their pool allocation. Under the new system, all clubs will face
spending caps, which can be extended only through trades for additional
space. While some smaller market teams will receive slightly higher
allocations, most organizations won't be able to go past $4.75MM with
their base pool and can't trade for more than a total of $8.3MM. Plus,
Badler notes, some teams have already committed portions of their
2017-18 pool space to other players.
If Robert is cleared to sign before the signing period is up, he'd at
least have greater options. That would open the door to the clubs that
have already gone past their limits — the Astros, Athletics, Braves,
Cardinals, Nationals, Padres and Reds. Otherwise, those organizations
would join others (the Cubs, Dodgers, Giants, and Royals) on the
sidelines for significant international talents. Alternatively, he could
join another club either before or after the signing calendar flips.
Badler notes that the White Sox have been discussed as a team with
possible interest; if Robert is cleared in time, Chicago (or another
hypothetical team with heavy interest) could elect to spend past its
2016-17 pool limits (thus taking on penalties) or make Robert the
signature piece of their 2017-18 signing group.
Source: Prospect Luis Robert Leaves Cuba - MLB Trade Rumors -