A hat-tip to Tim Dierkes and Nick Collias at mlbtradrumors.com for breaking a story yesterday that the Cubs have signed a pair of Cuban players. The Cubs aren’t commenting because all of the visa issues aren’t finalized, but they’re expecting outfielder Ruby Silva and catcher Yaniel Cabezas at their minor-league minicamp in February. Both players currently are in the Dominican Republic.
Tim’s site reported that Silva signed for $1.2 million, with Cabezas getting $500,000. The Cubs recently gave outfield prospect Matt Szczur $1.5 million to forgo football for a baseball career.
Cubs people I’ve talked with say Silva is a left-handed hitter who still could play some middle infield as well as center field. They like his athleticism, arm and speed. The Cubs seem to like Cabezas as a “catch-and-throw” guy, reminiscent of Yadier Molina, at least at this early stage and in that respect. The players’ contracts have been approved by MLB, sources said.
With the Cubs having just traded outfielder Brandon Guyer and catcher Robinson Chirinos to Tampa Bay for Matt Garza, they feel these signings fill some holes in the system well before the draft. Expect both of the new players to break camp with Class A Peoria.
As far as another highly touted outfielder goes, the Cubs seem intent on keeping Brett Jackson, their No. 1 pick from 2009, in center field. “I’m going to continue to play him in center,” said farm director Oneri Fleita. “I think he can play center. Who knows? It could be a nice little problem down the road if you’ve got Szczur and Silva and (Tyler) Colvin and (Tony) Campana and all these guys in the mix. The one thing is, if we can get a core of this group to the big leagues, you shouldn’t see many balls hit the ground.”
Spring training begins in just over two weeks.