Earlier this week, the Los Angeles Dodgers signed Cuban infielder Hector Olivera to a six-year, $62.5 million contract to be a future infielder for their organization. Plus, we have seen other Cuban signings in baseball with Arizona getting pitcher Yoan Lopez and the Red Sox acquiring shortstop Yoan Moncada. The next Cuban pitcher that scouts are raving about is 19-year-old Yadier Alvarez.
According to CBS Sports and MLB Network’s Jon Heyman, the Washington Nationals are one of the teams who are interested in the left-hander along with organizations such as the Dodgers, Phillies, and Cardinals to name a few:
However, Alvarez is trying to sign in this international signing period, so that more teams can get involved in the bidding before July 2. Therefore, as Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs reported in February, he has applied for a waiver from MLB to sign in either this signing period or the one that will begin on July 2. If Alvarez was eligible to sign before July 2, that puts the Dodgers in play because after July 2, they can’t sign a player in the next signing period for over $300,000.
The lefty has a fastball that can reach up to 99 miles per hour, but he is able to hit it consistently between 94-97 mph. Also, he has a slider and curveball in his arsenal. This is a pitcher that who hasn’t had any experience for the Cuban National or in their top league, Serie Nacional, but this could be a good find for the Nationals.
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Now, Washington has not spent much on international free agents during this signing period. According to Baseball America, Washington has the second smallest bonus pool to sign free agents next signing period, which is at $1.985 million. The Nats have acquired some of their top organizational talent thru the international market with players such as infielder Wilmer Difo and right-hander Reynaldo Lopez.
When you look at the organization’s rankings, eight of their top 15 prospects are pitchers, according to MLB Pipeline. However, only one pitcher in the top 16 prospects is left-handed (Felipe Rivero). If Washington were to sign Alvarez, they would not have to rush him to the big leagues. Now, it would require a good amount of money as it is thought that he could make $10 million.
Currently, the 6”3 pitcher is residing in the Dominican Republic. During this offseason, as I mentioned earlier, the Diamondbacks signed Yoan Lopez, a right-handed pitcher to a $8.25 million contract. It should be interesting to watch the Alvarez sweepstakes as it unfolds.