Cuban slugger Jose Dariel Abreu has picked an agent stateside

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We learned last week that Cuban slugger Jose Dariel Abreu had defected (reportedly to Haiti or the Dominican Republic) in an effort to make his way to the United States. Now he has picked an agent.

Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports reports that Abreu has selected Barry Praver and Bart Hernandez of Praver Shapiro Sports Management to represent him stateside. He’s slated to have a showcase for teams in September, though he’ll have to establish residency outside of Cuba and be unblocked by the Office of Foreign Assets Control before being declared a free agent by MLB. That process could take a while.

Highly regarded for his power, Abreu is a 26-year-old first baseman who stands at an estimated 6-foot-3 and 250 pounds. Passan (and many others) believe that he could command the richest contract ever for a Cuban player, possibly approaching $60 million or more. Yasiel Puig’s seven-year, $42 million deal with the Dodgers is currently the highest. Since Abreu is older than 23 and played in Cuba’s top league for more than three years, he will not be subject to MLB’s international spending cap.

Diamondbacks return Rule 5 pick Tyler Jones to Yankees

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Diamondbacks’ right-hander Tyler Jones is headed back to the Yankees, the teams announced on Friday. The Diamondbacks had previously selected Jones in the Rule 5 draft last December, but elected to leave the 27-year-old off of their 40-man roster heading into the 2017 season. Rule 5 draft rules stipulate that when a player is not kept on the receiving team’s roster, the player must be offered back to his original team.

Jones signed a minor league contract with the Yankees prior to the 2016 season. He pitched to an impressive 2.17 ERA, 2.2 BB/9 and 13.2 SO/9 over 45 2/3 innings with Double-A Trenton, but was unable to make the leap to Triple-A or beyond during his stay with the organization.

Jones’ outlook with the Diamondbacks appeared slightly more promising. GM Mike Hazen described the righty as a power arm with a “good fastball and power curveball” after selecting him in the Rule 5 draft, and early reports indicated that Jones would be in the mix for a bullpen spot. A rough spring performance — underscored by his lack of experience at the Triple-A and major league levels — undid most of that confidence, however, and the Diamondbacks weren’t willing to keep him on the active roster throughout the entire 2017 season in order to acquire his control rights.

Jones is set to open the season with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, per a report from the Yankees.

Derek Norris signing with the Rays

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Yahoo Sports’ Tim Brown reports that Derek Norris is signing with the Tampa Bay Rays.

Norris was released by the Nationals nine days ago, made redundant by the Nats’ signing of Matt Wieters and by everyone sliding down a notch on the depth chart below him. Norris hit only .186/.255/.328 with 14 home runs and a .528 OPS for the Padres in 2016.

Still, there always seems to be a place for a backup catcher. For Norris that place is Tampa Bay.