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Cuban outfielder Luis Robert cleared to sign with a major league club

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Nineteen-year-old outfield prospect Luis Robert left his native Cuba last November, and began the process of being cleared to be signed as a free agent. That process is over now, and the bidding war for Robert can commence.

That he’s cleared now is a boon to him and a handful of teams as there was some speculation at the time he left Cuba that he might not be cleared until after the new Collective Bargaining Agreement provisions regarding international free agents went into effect in July. If that had happened, it would’ve imposed greater penalties on teams which had already spent a lot on international players. Now, however, Robert’s market will be more wide open. To date, there have been reports that the A’s, Astros, Cardinals, White Sox, Padres and Reds are among the teams with the strongest interest in signing him.

Just about any team can sign Robert before July 2, and whoever signs him will be subject to various penalties if they have already exceeded their international bonus pool. If he signs after July 2, however, teams which have exceeded their bonus pools will only be able to offer him a $300,000 bonus, effectively taking them out of the running. This will create a big, big incentive for teams which have exceeded their pools to offer big money now, pay the penalty but get their man.

Robert has been described by one talent evaluator as “the best player on the planet, and that’s no exaggeration.” Well, OK, but having hit .393 with 12 home runs and 11 stolen bases in Cuba’s Serie Nacional last season, he’s been compared favorably to Yoenis Cespedes. And he’s only 19, which means his ceiling could be way, way higher.

Clayton Kershaw struggles with control, walks six Marlins

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Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw entered Wednesday night’s start against the Marlins without having issued a walk in his previous three starts. In fact, his last walk came on April 3 when he issued a free pass to Paul Goldschmidt with the bases empty and two outs in the bottom of the first inning. All told, Kershaw was on a streak of 26 walk-less innings before he took the mound at home to take on the Marlins.

Kershaw started off Wednesday in character, striking out the side in the first inning. He issued a walk in a tough second inning, but escaped without allowing a run. Kershaw walked two more in the third and again danced out of danger. In the fourth, Kershaw walked Lewis Brinson to load the bases with no outs and — you guessed it — didn’t end up allowing a run. His errant control finally came back to bite him in the fifth when Kershaw issued back-to-back two-out walks, then served up a three-run home run to Miguel Rojas down the left field line. His night was done when he completed the inning. Five innings, three runs, five hits, six walks, seven strikeouts, 112 pitches.

The six walks Kershaw issued over five innings marked his first six-walk outing since April 7, 2010 when he issued six free passes to the Pirates in 4 2/3 innings. The only other time he walked as many was on August 3, 2009 against the Brewers in a four-plus inning outing. Kershaw hasn’t even walked five batters in an outing recently — the last time was September 23, 2012 against the Reds.