Raicel Iglesias detained in Cuba; Yankees will have to look elsewhere

Koji Watanabe

It was believed that Raicel Iglesias had defected from Cuba in order to declare his free agency and sign with a major league team in the offseason; however, that seems to be untrue. He was detained by Cuban authorities before he was ever able to leave the island.

MLB Trade Rumors has the full chain of events:

Diaro De Cuba reports the 23-year-old was hiding in the mountains of Isla de la Juventud until Thursday when he left searching for food and water. The report says Iglesias attempted to leave Cuba September 22 in the area of Punta de Piedra, but failed. Diaro De Cuba quotes Lázaro Ricardo Pérez, an independent journalist, as saying Iglesias was hiding with several individuals, including his brother, and all were dehydrated. Pérez added rumors of the right-hander's escape became public Tuesday alerting authorities while Iglesias was still in hiding.

He pitched for Cuba in the World Baseball Classic in March and posted a 1.68 ERA with 50 strikeouts and 20 walks in 53 2/3 innings this past season in Cuba. Now with him unable to apply for free agency or compete with his local team, it's unknown where his career will go from here. He should be released from custody soon, but it's still unknown if he will face charges from the Cuban government.

The Yankees should have been all over Iglesias in the offseason, but now they'll only have 1B/DH Jose Abreu to go after. They will need to find pitching for next season since Andy Pettitte has retired and Hiroki Kuroda and Phil Hughes will become free agents. If they could tap into the international market and find some promising youth, it would essentially kill two birds with one stone. It wouldn't have been a sure thing, but it would have been very helpful. Hopefully they can find some stateside pitching help or turn their focus to Masahiro Tanaka as he comes over from Japan this winter.

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