Recently defected Cuban outfielder Daniel Carbonell has been declared a free agent after establishing residency in Mexico. He played for Camaguey in the Cuban National Series from the 2009-10 season through '12-13. Carbonell was suspended in August before defecting a few months later in October. While residing in Mexico he hosted a workout last month for at least 15 major league teams, the Yankees being among them.
The 6-foot-3, 23-year-old is known for his all-around speed and athleticism as well as his power and strong throwing arm. In his Cuban career he hit .287/.359/.398, showing the ability to hit for average and get on base. While his total numbers don't necessary back up the claim of a power hitter, his power numbers did gradually improved year after year.
From his showcase video (you can watch the raw video here), it's easy to see that he's strong, well built, very fast, and has a great arm. He actually looks more like a running back than a baseball player. He has a simple and powerful swing, at least when hitting batting practice.
In this video, his legs are bent and he seems to hold his arms out in front, instead of behind him. He then has to pull them back as he prepares for the pitch and ends up with a slightly longer swing. While neither videos are necessarily in-game depictions of his play, the changes (?) in his stance from December 2013 (second video) to February 2013 (first video) are interesting to see.
Given his age, overall athleticism, and country of origin, it's easy to try comparing Daniel Carbonell with Yasiel Puig. However, it's important to keep expectations in check for two reasons:
1) At the same age, Puig has now been a starter in the majors for two seasons.
2) Puig tore up Cuban baseball before defecting, while Carbonell has not.
This, of course, doesn't mean he can't be good in his own right.
Carbonell might actually be the last international free agent of his kind as MLB has decided to change the rules surrounding Cuban defectors for the 2013-2014 signing period that begins in July. In years past, Cuban defectors were eligible for free agency as long as they were 23 years old and had three seasons of experience in Cuba's Serie Nacional. Now, under the new rules, they will need to have five seasons in order to qualify. While Carbonell started playing at the age of 18, he would no longer qualify under the new rules.
That means future players who don't meet those criteria will have their signing bonus count against their team's international bonus pool.This is obviously another move to discourage teams from signing all the talent they can and, while nothing is imminent, this new rule is another step closer to an international draft.
Carbonell will still fit under the old rules because he has already been declared a free agent. If the Yankees are interested, they'll be able to sign him without being penalized. If reports from the offseason are true and the Yankees do plan to spend big on international free agents to supplement their lack of first-round picks in the 2014 MLB Draft, Carbonell could be the perfect target.
In my opinion, the Yankees should definitely go after him. He seems to have a lot of raw physical skills and talent. There doesn't seem to be a lot of hype surrounding him at the moment, and only one other team, the Blue Jays, are known to be interested. Things could certainly heat up, but the Yankees should take advantage of the market and sign him. It's no sure thing (what is in baseball?), but while most of the talent the Yankees plan on signing is going to be 16 years old, Carbonell could theoretically be the face of their spending spree and will be ready for the majors much sooner than it will take the rest of the kids they sign.