Cuban outfielder Yasel Puig defects, goes to Mexico in search of free agency

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Already this year Yoenis Cespedes and Jorge Soler have landed $36 million and $30 million contracts after defecting from Cuba and another highly touted player is hoping to follow in their footsteps.

Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com reports that 21-year-old outfielder Yasel Puig defected from Cuba and “is in the process of establishing residency in Mexico.”

Once that happens he’ll be declared a free agent, although as Soler showed recently that process can drag on for a long time. In the meantime he’ll hold a “showcase” for MLB scouts in Mexico.

Puig’s agent, Jaime Torres, is talking him up as a rare combination of youth and experience, as the 6-foot-3 outfielder has played in international competition and Cuba’s top league for several years already.

However, unless Puig is declared a free agent almost immediately it’ll be impossible for him to cash in with the same type of huge contract as Cespedes and Soler thanks to the changes to the collective bargaining agreement that go into effect on July 2. In other words, Torres will be racing the clock while Puig is trying to impress scouts.

Report: Shohei Ohtani has sprained UCL in pitching elbow

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The Angels signed Japanese superstar Shohei Ohtani for a $2.3 million signing bonus last weekend. They may have damaged goods on their hands. Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports that Ohtani underwent a physical that revealed a first-degree sprain of his ulnar collateral ligament. As a result, he got a platelet-rich plasma injection on October 20. This was made known to teams after Ohtani entered MLB’s posting system, so it wasn’t like the Angels went into this blind.

Ohtani’s report said, “Although partial damage of UCL in deep layer of his right UCL exists, he is able to continue full baseball participation with sufficient elbow care program.” It also said Ohtani “will most likely be available to start his throwing program approximately a month from the PRP.”

Passan notes that the report also mentioned that a “small free body” floats in Ohtani’s elbow near his UCL.

Ohtani isn’t without other injuries. He battled hamstring and ankle issues throughout 2017 and underwent right ankle surgery back in October. Thankfully for the Angels, this diagnosis is about as good as it could be considering the circumstances. However, if Ohtani does exacerbate his UCL issue, he may ultimately need Tommy John surgery at some point, which would take him out of action for at least a year.