Cespedes Establishes Residency in the Dominican … and Other Cubs News, Notes and Rumors

The Cubs off-season has been very quiet of late but that could be changing soon.

The Cubs are expected to announce the non-roster invitees to Spring Training this week. The Cubs have signed several minor league free agents but have not officially announced a majority of those contracts that include non-roster invitations to big league camp. Plus, the Cubs have not cleared a roster space for Kerry Wood after announcing his new contract 10 days ago. The Cubs 40-man roster currently has 40 players on it with one contract pending.

The Cubs are expected to make a big run at both Yoenis Cespedes and Jorge Soler … and it appears the bidding between the Cubs and Marlins for Cespedes could begin soon.

Reports from the Dominican Republic early Tuesday indicated that Cespedes would not be playing again in the Dominican this season. The report suggested the team (The Aguilas) was not happy with his performance (.143/.167/.257, 5-for-35 with 10 strikeouts, a hit by pitch, one home run and no walks) but it appears that Cespedes was asked not to play any longer by MLB teams that are interested in signing him.

Yoenis Cespedes has established residency in the Dominican Republic, the first step in becoming eligible to be signed … and he may have already been granted free agency by the MLB front office.

Reminder alert … MLB.com is unveiling their list of the top 50 prospects in the game on the MLB Network (9:00pm CST) Wednesday night. The top 100 prospects in the game will be available on MLB.com soon after the telecast.

Here is the update … including more on Yoenis Cespedes.

Yoenis Cespedes
According to multiple reports Tuesday night, Yoenis Cespedes has established residency in the Dominican Republic and is waiting for approval from MLB to be declared a free agent.

Establishing residency was the first step in the process for Cespedes before he can sign a contract with a big league team. With this hurdle out of the way for his agent Adam Katz, the next step is for Cespedes to apply to the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).

In accordance with the new guidelines, Cuban players no longer have to wait three to six months to be unblocked by the U.S Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) after establishing residency outside of Cuba or the United States.

Prior to Jan. 28, 2011, any Cuban national who defected had to first establish residency, which could take months, and then apply to the OFAC for a license to be an unblocked individual. Until a player received the license, he was not free to sign. And an investigation by OFAC could take up to six months, meaning it could take six to nine months from defection to a free agency.

Now under the new rules, instead of having to request a specific license from OFAC for unblockage, there is a general license authorizing Major League teams to do business once permanent residency outside of Cuba (and not in the United States) was established, eliminating the requirement that the defector be processed by OFAC before they were declared free agents by Major League Baseball.

In short, establishing residency — not being unblocked — is the most important step for Cuban players like Cespedes trying to land jobs in the big leagues

Cespedes is currently training with Edgar Mercedes in the Dominican. Mercedes told Dionisio Soldevila that Cespedes is officially a free agent. Soldevila’s report is the only one as of this writing stating that Yoenis Cespedes has become a free agent.

Even with the questionable, at best, performance in the Dominican (.143/.167/.257, 5-for-35 with 10 strikeouts, a hit by pitch, one home run and no walks), Yoenis Cespedes is still in line for a nice pay day and many feel he will sign for more than Aroldis Chapman (six years, $30.25 million).

Video of Yoenis Cespedes in Cuba … Link found on Baseball America

Chattin’ with Bruce Levine
Mr. Talkin’ Baseball held his weekly chat on ESPNChicago.com. Here are the highlights:

  • Levine led off his chat by stating, “It’s all about the Cubans at this point for the Cubs. They are waiting for Cespedes and Soler to become Dominican citizens. When they do they are going after both.”
  • Levine thinks the Cubs will either sign Matt Garza to a long-term deal before Spring Training or he will be traded between now and July 31. Levine does not think the Cubs will go into 2013 with Garza under his current contract because just having one year of control will diminish his trade value.
  • Darwin Barney would be the ideal backup at short and second base for the Cubs.
  • Compensation for Theo Epstein should be a marginal prospect and cash according to Levine … the same the Cubs gave up for Andy MacPhail in 1994.
  • Yoenis Cespedes could need a month or two in the minors depending on how he performs in Spring Training … if he is signed by then.
  • The Braves have been interested in Marlon Byrd for the last 8-10 months. Levine has not been able to confirm if the Cubs could deal Byrd to Atlanta for a second baseman but he has heard Martin Prado could be available … again, he has not been able to confirm Prado’s availability or the Cubs possible interest in him.
  • Levine has been told that Theo Epstein did not want to trade Andrew Cashner.
  • The Cubs have the money to go after both Yoenis Cespedes and Jorge Soler … as well as sign both players. The Cubs main competition for Cespedes will be the Marlins.

News, Notes and Rumors
The Cubs are one of the teams very interested in signing 18-year old southpaw Geraldo Concepcion.

Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com named Brett Jackson the fifth best outfield prospect in the game. The Cubs have four position players ranked among the top at their position this off-season. Anthony Rizzo (1) and Dan Vogelbach (10) made the list for first basemen and Javier Baez (8) was mentioned among the best shortstop prospects in baseball. MLB.com is unveiling their list of the top 50 prospects in the game on the MLB Network (9:00pm CST) Wednesday night. The top 100 prospects in the game will be available on MLB.com soon after the telecast

Well, there’s the update … and I’m sticking to it.

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