Spring training is around the corner and players are still on the hunt for new homes for the upcoming season, and supposedly many others to follow. Amongst the list of available players are Cuban All-Stars who have defected from the island and are looking for an opportunity in the big leagues.
Thus far, one Cuban has been signed as the Los Angeles Dodgers agreed to terms with RHP Yaisel Sierra. Next on the list is outfielder Alexei Bell, who is looking for a major league opportunity where he could see himself starting in the near future.
According to a report from Jorge Ebro of Baseball de Cuba on Wednesday afternoon, Bell is on his way to the United States, most likely for a physical examination and introduction press conference. A potential announcement could be made this weekend if not early next week. Jon Heyman of MLB Network notes that he has been in touch with Bell who is in an "undisclosed location" in Mexico.
Right now may not be the time for Bell to sign a deal as he may need more time. With that said, waiting could give him time to prepare for a showcase that will take place in two-to-three weeks where many scouts will be on display.
When Bell first arrives in the United States, he is said to have a meeting scheduled with his representatives at DPX Sports where they will discuss what the 32-year-old is looking for. From there Bell can declare for free agency and teams can start to bid on his services.
It is said that contract terms for Bell will not be subject to international bonus restrictions due to his age and long experience in Cuba.
Looking at his career statistics, Bell owns a slashline of .319/.417/.547 to go alongside 3,441 career plate appearances. Since first joining a ball club on the island, he has become one of the league's most productive hitters.
In the past, Bell has struggled with strikeouts and his walks have both been very low. Bell has not ended a season with more strikeouts than walks in a single season since 2008.
As noted by Ben Badler of Baseball America, Bell has shown inconsistencies which have improved and continue to improve upon. He brings with him a strong arm which could be the ultimate call as to whether he could fit in right field or not. But Bell will most likely need to spend some time at the minor league level to further develop.
Over the course of the 2015 season, Bell spent it in the Canadian-American Association with Quebec where his numbers were not a good sign. He ended the season having hit .317/.363/.424 with two home runs over 241 plate appearances. A little more time could have him ready to go in no time, as many clubs are seeking his services at this time.