We heard about it yesterday but now it’s official. And thanks to the new rules of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, this will be the last big dollar international free agent signing you’ll be seeing:
The Los Angeles Dodgers have signed Cuban outfielder Yasiel Puig to a seven-year contract.
The Dodgers announced the deal on Friday. The team didn’t reveal the financial numbers, but numerous media reports pegged the contract at $42 million, a record for a Cuban defector.
The 21-year-old Puig has rarely played outside Cuba, but excelled with Cienfuegos during the 2010-11 season before sitting out last season. He has made numerous attempts to defect, and recently established residency in Mexico.
That’s a lot of money for a guy scouts are somewhat iffy on, but he’s young and the deal is long so if he does pan out as a regular, it won’t look too bad.
Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports that Phillies owner John Middleton flew to Las Vegas for a meeting with Bryce Harper on Friday. Per ESPN’s Jeff Passan, it’s “more of a meet-and-greet than a sign-a-deal” affair, but as the club is still at the forefront of trade rumors involving the All-Star slugger, there remains a possibility (however slight) that something could be completed in the days to come.
Even now, the Phillies aren’t alone in the race to sign Harper, but recent rumors have helped whittle down the competition from five or more teams (Phillies, Nationals, White Sox, Giants, and Padres) to three strong contenders. The Giants are said to be interested in a lucrative short-term deal with the outfielder, while the Padres remain in the conversation despite inking Manny Machado to a mammoth 10-year, $300 million contract this week. It’s not yet clear just how far either team would go to outbid Philadelphia as talks with Harper intensify.
As for the Nationals and White Sox, the former officially bowed out earlier today, and MLB Network’s Jon Heyman adds that the latter won’t make a strong play for Harper as they feel the asking price and competing offers are “getting too high” for the 26-year-old’s services. If a mystery team is still in the mix, there’s been no word on their standing with Harper in the last month or so.