There’s going to be a new Jose Fernandez in major league baseball soon. This one doesn’t pitch, however. He’s a second baseman from Cuba and, it appears anyway, he has defected.
Fernandez is 26 and, according to Ben Badler of Baseball America, he is a polished, finished product with excellent plate discipline and on-base skills, though not much power. His defense is said to be adequate. That’s a bit of a different mix than we’ve seen from past Cuban players, many of whom have profiled as having elite tools but maybe not as much in the way of polish and plate discipline. Of course, we’ve also seen that many of the more recent Cuban products have been a but undersold. Many didn’t expect much of Yasiel Puig and Jose Abreu, for example.
If the usual timeline holds it may be next season before he is secure with non-U.S. permanent residency and his immigration paperwork is finalized. At that point, he would be a free agent.