Cuban prospect Cespedes declared free agent

Cuban prospect Cespedes declared free agent

Cuban prospect Cespedes declared free agent
Yoenis Cespedes is now a free agent.

On Wednesday, Major League Baseball sent out a notice to clubs, advising them that the Cuban outfield prospect, as a resident of the Dominican Republic, is not subject to the amateur Draft and may now sign as a free agent.

On Tuesday, Cespedes established residency in the Dominican. His representative must now unblock him, pursuant to the Office of Foreign Assets Control regulations before he can enter into a contract.

Cespedes, who just finished a stint with Aguilas Cibaenas in the Dominican Winter League, recently said the Marlins, Cubs, White Sox, Orioles, Tigers, and Indians have expressed the most interest in signing him. He is expected to command a contract greater than the one received by Cuban left-handed pitcher Aroldis Chapman, who signed a six-year, $30.25 million deal with the Reds in January 2010.

The Marlins are on record saying they believe Cespedes' best fit is in Miami, with its strong Cuban community. The club is prepared to make a substantial offer -- between four and six years -- for the power-hitting outfielder.

Marlins president David Samson once again confirmed interest in Cespedes during his weekly radio spot on The Dan LeBatard Show on 790 The Ticket. Samson added no team official spoke with Cespedes' representatives on Wednesday.

"We have not negotiated with his representatives at all," Samson said. "I believe we are able to start negotiating now. As are all the other teams. ... We'll see. We're going to try as hard as we can. With that said, there's other teams. Maybe some teams thought they were getting Prince Fielder for four years and all of a sudden, they weren't."

Reports that he is not interested in signing with the Marlins are not true, an industry source said.

Cespedes hit .333 with 33 home runs, 99 RBIs and 11 stolen bases over 90 games in Cuba during the 2010-11 season, and many believe he can be inserted into the 2012 Opening Day starting lineup for the team that signs him.

He hit .143 with one home run and 10 strikeouts in 35 at-bats for Aguilas.

Jesse Sanchez is a national reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @JesseSanchezMLB. MLB.com reporter Joe Frisaro contributed. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.