It looks like Cuban free agent outfielder Yadiel Hernandez is getting closer to signing with a MLB team, probably with the four showing the most interest in him: Miami Marlins, Colorado Rockies, Arizona Diamondbacks and the Milwaukee Brewers.
The Marlins held a private workout for the 28-year old who prefers playing in leftfield, while he’s also held a showcase for all four teams. Hernandez is exempt from international spending limitations due to his age and professional experience in Cuba. In 2167 pro plate appearances in Cuba, he has a .324 batting average, .449 OBP and a very impressive .937 OPS, showing some power besides excellent plate skills, striking out on only 13% of his plate appearances in Cuba while walking 17.5% of the time.
However, in the majors, things obviously change with the higher quality of pitching to face. Cuban hitters often see their strikeout ratio go up by five to eight percent, and Hernandez doesn’t have the high regard players like Jose Abreu and Yoenis Cespedes arrived with, which means teams might like his numbers, but aren’t completely sure he’s going to do well in the majors. His price tag makes him a little bit more appealing.
Both the Marlins and Diamondbacks will only bring him in as a rotation, backup kind of player. The Marlins have Giancarlo Stanton, Marcell Ozuna and Christian Yelich in the outfield. The Diamondbacks are set with David Peralta, A.J. Pollock and Yasmany Tomas, while Chris Owings and Brandon Drury pretty much fill that area of the field to the brim. Things aren’t that clear, however, with the Rockies and Brewers.
For both teams, it’s not necessarily because they don’t have talent there, but because they’re prime candidates for trading someone in their outfield in the next few months. Carlos Gonzalez in Colorado and Ryan Braun in Milwaukee are often mentioned in trade scenarios, and Braun especially is looking to get out of a bad situation in Milwaukee – a talented team, but not one that’s going to win any time soon.
Hernandez isn’t going to be an immediate contributor too. He hasn’t played since the 2014-2015 season in Cuba, so it means shedding some rust in the minors. But if he’s that much of a phenom when it comes to reading pitchers and getting hits out of anyone, it’s probably worth the time and patience, especially when there’s no extra fee involved in adding him to the roster.