Agent says 16-year-old Cuban is not close to a decision, may still sign during current period
By Jesse Sanchez
SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic -- Lazaro "Lazarito" Armenteros, one of the most dynamic young talents to come out of Cuba in recent memory, is still weighing his options, some of which are new.
The 16-year-old free agent was expected to make a decision Wednesday on where he will sign. But on Friday, his agent, Charles Hairston, told MLB.com that the 6-foot-2, 205-pound outfielder was not close to a decision and that there are new teams in the mix.
"For a 16 year-old, it's easy to want to just play ball," said Hairston. "But he wants to do what's best for his family. He's being very mature."
There were already nine teams with strong interest in signing Armenteros, according to industry sources, with the Braves, Cubs, Dodgers, Padres and Phillies among them.
Armenteros, who is subject to the international signing guidelines because of his age and experience, was declared a free agent by Major League Baseball on Jan. 8. He could sign during the international signing period that started July 2, 2015, or wait until the next international signing period begins July 2.
Hairston said that Armenteros is still considering signing during the current period. And when he signs matters.
The Dodgers, Cubs, Giants and Royals -- who have each exceeded their bonus pools this year and won't be able to sign any pool-eligible prospects for more than $300,000 for the next two international signing periods -- are still in play for Armenteros during the current period.
The Braves, Padres and Phillies have been very aggressive on the international market and each team expects to have a solid class of prospects for the next international signing period that starts on July 2. Armenteros would have to wait until July 2 if he wanted to sign with those three clubs.
"I'm always ready. I'm realizing my dream to play professional baseball," Armenteros told MLB.com last week at Estadio Quisqueya during the Caribbean Series. "I'm planning on making a decision on [Feb. 10], but only God knows what will happen and when I will sign. I'm not worried about it. I'm just waiting on the right opportunity."
On Saturday, Armenteros, who is ranked No. 8 on MLB Pipeline's Top 30 International Prospects list, worked out for the Braves at their complex in San Pedro de Macoris. On Monday, the outfielder worked out for an undisclosed team in his final private workout.
Armenteros was named to the all-tournament team last year after hitting .462 with nine runs, three doubles, five triples and eight RBIs in nine games during Cuba's championship run at the U15 Baseball World Cup in Mexico. He also had 42 hits in 38 games, with eight doubles, three triples, six home runs and 12 stolen bases for Havana's under-15 team in 2014. He recorded five hits, including two triples, in four games for Havana as a 13-year-old.
Armenteros, who established residency in Haiti in May, had his first open showcase last month and has been displaying his talents in private workouts for teams during the past several weeks in the Dominican Republic.
Jesse Sanchez is a national reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @JesseSanchezMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.