Report: Cuban star Yulieski Gourriel hits MLB free agent market
Cuban infielder Yulieski Gourriel is a free agent and can now sign with any major league team, according to Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com.
Gourriel and his brother, Lourdes Gourriel Jr., 22, arrived in the United States after defecting from Cuba in February.
Gourriel, 32, has spent 14 seasons in Cuba and one in Japan with the Yokohama Dena Baystars. He has hit .335 in his career with 250 home runs and 1,018 RBIs. Last season, he hit .500 with 15 home runs and 51 RBIs in 49 games for Industriales of the Cuban League.
Major league scouts were first drawn to Gourriel when he played for the Cuban national team at the 2006 World Baseball Classic. He was teammates with Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman and has reportedly been in contact with the reliever with questions about playing for New York.
Cuban and U.S. baseball officials are hoping to make it easier for Cuban residents to join the major leagues, though laws have not yet been revised to facilitate easier access to MLB for Cuban players. More than 200 players have fled Cuba in hopes of making it to the major leagues.