Atlanta Braves Interest Level in Luis Robert Could be a Math Lesson

Dec 3, 2016; Santiago de Cuba, Cuba; The ashes of Cuban president Fidel Castro pass through Cespedes Park in Santiago de Cuba where he declared victory on Jan. 1, 1959. Mandatory Credit: Jack Gruber-USA TODAY NETWORK
Dec 3, 2016; Santiago de Cuba, Cuba; The ashes of Cuban president Fidel Castro pass through Cespedes Park in Santiago de Cuba where he declared victory on Jan. 1, 1959. Mandatory Credit: Jack Gruber-USA TODAY NETWORK /
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Apr 19, 2017; New York City, NY, USA; A ball hit by Philadelphia Phillies right fielder Michael Saunders (not pictured) drops in front of New York Mets left fielder Yoenis Cespedes (52) in the eighth inning at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 19, 2017; New York City, NY, USA; A ball hit by Philadelphia Phillies right fielder Michael Saunders (not pictured) drops in front of New York Mets left fielder Yoenis Cespedes (52) in the eighth inning at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports /

Precedent

You might be surprised to know just how many Cuban escapees have signed with MLB clubs. Baseball-reference.com lists over 200 names. Wikipedia has 99 names on their list, though there are exceptions.

One of these is Jose Fernandez, who while born in Cuba and escaped at age 15, he was subject to the Rule 4 draft.  Jose Canseco is another draftee, with his family actually allowed to leave the island in 1965 when Jose was a year old.

Nonetheless, there’s getting to be a fairly large body of history in terms of both contracts and performance track records.

Several players have made good careers in the majors, with just a few arising to ‘star’ status.

Here are some recent, higher-profile signees to consider (some others not on this chart will come up later):

Player Position Total $$ Years
José Adolis García Outfielder minor league
Lourdes Gurriel Jr. Infielder $22 million 7 years
Yoan Moncada Infielder $31.5 million bonus
Yulieski Gurriel Infielder $47 million 5 years
Aledmys Díaz Shortstop $8 million* 4 years
Héctor Olivera Second baseman $62.5 million 6 years
Dariel Álvarez Outfielder $800,000 1 yr, minor lg
Adonis García Outfielder $400,000 1 yr, minor lg
Yasmany Tomás Outfielder $68.5 million 6 years
Rusney Castillo Outfielder $72 million 7 years
Miguel Alfredo González Pitcher $12 million** 3 years
Jorge Soler Outfielder $30 million 9 years
Odrisamer Despaigne Pitcher $1 million bonus
José Abreu
First baseman $68 million 6 years
Alex Guerrero Shortstop $28 million 4 years
Yasiel Puig
Outfielder $42 million 7 years
Adeiny Hechavarria
Shortstop $10 million 4 years
Yoenis Céspedes
Outfielder $36 million 4 years
Leonys Martín Outfielder $15.5 million 5 years
Aroldis Chapman
Pitcher $30.25 million 6 years
Dayán Viciedo Outfielder $10 million 4 years
Yoan Lopez Pitcher $16 million ($8.27m bonus)
Roberto Baldoquin Infielder $8 million bonus

* – Was originally said to be seeking $20-30 million

** – Was renegotiated down after failing the physical

Just look up and down this list.  You have to be struck by the amount of money that was simply wasted by players who did not nearly live up to the deals they signed.

But how many of these deals have actually been “worth it?”  Cespedes and Chapman certainly; Hechavarria is probably the next best deal.  In terms of performance-vs-dollars, Adonis Garcia actually has to be on the ‘value’ list too.

There’s another factor in play here as well:  the impact of human smugglers who have taken their own cuts from many of these deals, too.

But as that aspect has come to light, teams may very well be more wary of paying more for what amounts to a ransom for those providing transportation.

BOTTOM LINE

The history suggests… okay, it screams… “caution”, and does not suggest a high price.

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