Major League Baseball made a ton of noise yesterday when 19 year old Cuban Phenom Luis Robert was granted his free agency. Robert is a young, physical specimen and a unique talent, and he is more than deserving of the accolades that he’s received.
But all of that chatter can amount to sensory overload. I’ve been monitoring(see also; “obsessing over”) the Robert situation for some time now, and even I was a bit dizzied by all of the news, comparisons, and accolades being tossed at the 19 year old right=handed OF.
So, what I wanted to do was put the complete history of the last few months in regards to Luis Robert in one place for easy reference. This is as much a working timeline as it is the “Up To The Minute Life And Times Of A Prodigy”.
Luis Robert: Cuban Sensation
All you need to do to is fire up Luis Robert’s Baseball Reference page to see how good he is. He’s been playing in, and succeeding in, Cuba’s top league since he was 16. Often times, he was playing against talent that was 10+ years older than him on average.
What his BR page won’t tell you is all of the success he’s had in tournament action. Coming from THIS MLB.com ARTICLE, Robert “starred for Cuba’s 16-and-under league as a 14-year-old and began playing in the 18-and-under league at 15, hitting .325 and leading the league with 21 steals his first year. He sported a .383 batting average in the league at age 16 and hit four home runs in the COPABE 18U Pan American Championship in 2014. He later was named to the all-tournament team in the 18-and-under World Cup in Japan in 2015.”
Luis (Like “Luis” Alicea) Robert (Ro-Bair) Moiran is his full name, but he goes by Luis Robert. He is a 6′ 3, 190+ monster of a kid who is chiseled out of marble. He has lightning quick bat speed, easily projectible plus-power, and the athleticism that scouts dream of. As he’s progressed and aged, he has also showed progress in plate discipline. He still strikes out a little bit, but not enough to be concerned about. Especially for a 19 year old. There’s a chance that he can play CF, but it’s more realistic that he fits into a corner where his plus arm and above average speed would play up.
Robert has played on American soil before, as part of the Canadian-American League. He wasn’t exactly a world beater in his 71 plate appearances, but I’m willing to bet that his first taste of the state of New York MIGHT have gotten the better of him.
Luis Robert: Defecting And Residing
On November 20th word started to leak that Robert had not been in the lineup for his Cuban Series Nacional Team for the prior four games. It wasn’t until January 9th that it was officially reported that Luis Robert had defected. Keep that two month difference in mind. The 19 year old had to keep his head low. That can’t be easy.
Per MLB rules, a Cuban “defector”, for lack of a better term, had to set up residency outside of Cuba before being allowed to sign with a major league club. So, on March 1st, 2017, he officially setup residency in Haiti. It was at this time that Major League Baseball could start taking his potential for ML free agency seriously.
Luis Robert: Free Agent
Luis Robert was granted his free agency on Thursday April 2o, 2017. While this is the day that he was granted free agency, he will not be allowed to officially sign with a team until May 2oth. The video above is from a showcase his agent put on in March, and he will have private workouts with teams between now and May 20th where he will be able to “showcase” his abilities. He is scheduled to have one more “open” showcase in early May.
Luis Robert And MLB International Signing Rules
Between the time that Robert defected and he was granted free agency, Major League Baseball and the MLBPA had reached a new collective bargaining agreement. Now, that all gets too damn confusing. Let me simplify it for you:
Robert has been given his free agency before June 15th.
He is subject to the amateur signing rules of the old collective bargaining agreement because he was granted free agency before June 15th of 2017.
Because of those rules, many of the big international spending teams such as the Cubs, both Los Angeles teams, and both New York teams will not be able to offer Robert more than $300,000 because they exceeded their cap limit during the 2015-2016 signing period.
There is A LOT more, but the rest is confusing and a distraction. Focus on these details
Luis Robert: Who Will Sign him And For How Much?
It is a shame that Ken Rosenthal broke the news today, because Baseball America‘s Ben Badler has worked his ass off to supply baseball fans with information on the Cuban sensation. Badler has been at the forefront of all of the news relating to Luis Robert, and he reports that The Cardinals, Astors, Padres, White Sox, Athletics, and Reds among other teams will be players for Luis Robert. I went out of my way to list those teams because I believe, and have heard, that those are the primary players for Robert. If I’m narrowing it down to a top five, it’s the Cardinals, Padres, Reds, White Sox, and Astros.
The cost for Robert will be interesting. He isn’t as toolsy as MLB.com #1 prospect Yoan Moncada, who was given a record-breaking $31.5 signing bonus by the Red Sox in February of 2015. That being said, he is a better prospect than Lourdes Gourriel, who was recently signed to a 7 year, $22 million contract by the Blue Jays. Now, it’s worth noting that the Gourriel was technically a free agent that wasn’t applicable to international signing rules, so you are talking about apples and oranges, but I think that a contract for Robert will be somewhere between those two numbers.
THE MOST IMPORTANT THING TO REMEMBER WHEN TALKING ABOUT A CONTRACT FOR ROBERT is that it will cost the team that signs him a 100% tax because it will send that team over their allotted international bonus pool money.
For instance, Moncada actually cost the Red Sox $63 million because of the cost of the signing bonus and the 100% MLB tax on the bonus for the overage. I BELIEVE that Robert will command a $30 million bonus. That means that it will cost the team that signs him $60 Million. That’s a hefty price.
The Cardinals And Luis Robert
I’m guessing that this is why you are here. As I stated earlier, The Cardinals are believed to be in the running, and one of the strongest contenders, for the phenom.
Thanks to THIS Q&A that I was a part of in Memphis with John Mozeliak, we know that the Cardinals are very interested in Robert. So far as I can tell, this is the only record of any Cardinals affiliated personnel sharing their interest in Luis Robert. As you’ll know when you reread the article, Mozeliak had a surprising amount to say about the Cuban.
My favorite possible connection between the Cardinals and Robert is his close relationship with recent Cardinals Cuban signee Jose Adolis Garcia. Robert goes out of his way to mention his close relationship with Garcia in the video below, and that relationship definitely won’t hurt the Cardinals chances of signing Robert.
— MLB (@MLB) February 25, 2017
Then, to play with your emotions a little bit, there is this picture of Luis Robert that I will let speak for itself:
All of these things are nice water-cooler-fodder, but we are kidding ourselves if we don’t think that this will be all about the money. And it should be. Defecting from your homeland and your family isn’t easy and shouldn’t be viewed that way, and you only do it if you think that you can vastly improve your lot by doing so. You don’t make that decision without maxing out your financial potential.
- The Cardinals are in a great position to sign Robert. They have a solid farm system that lacks top tier talent: Robert is an immediate top 50 prospect in baseball upon signing. He’s a marquee name.
- The Cardinals will not have any of their first three draft picks because of signing Dexter Fowler and because Chris Correa hacked the Astros database: Robert would EASILY go in the top 3 picks of any major league draft he would have been a part of if the circumstances were different.
- The Cardinals have money and are on the precipice of a new TV deal. They’ve over spent on Dexter Fowler, Mike Leake, and now Yadier Molina and were willing to spend big on David Price and Jason Heyward: Luis Robert’s services will come down to a bidding war. An aggressive team will sign him.
- The Cardinals have outfield depth in the minors, but, aside from Paul DeJong, lack power potential: Robert will have power in spades. He’s a physical specimen and his swing is meant for power.
Luis Robert is a perfect fit for the Cardinals, but will the Cardinals be able to go above and beyond financially to sign the 19 year old? Time will tell.
Comparing Luis Robert
As anyone who has followed our top 30 prospect list here At The Redbird Daily knows, I am not one to go over-board when comparing players. I like to find a real player to compare a prospect to because comparing Harrison Bader to Matt Kemp is a joke that I would never patronize our audience with.
So, please understand that when I tell you that Robert has a ceiling of Carlos Gonzalez that I do it with much reservation. Please keep in mind, that’s his ceiling. Like I told the other esteemed writers on this website earlier, if he progressive moderately you are looking at a Hunter Pence level talent. Yes, I know you hate Pence. Yes, He is weird looking. Still, he is an all-star and a player that averages 24 HR and slashes 284/339/809 in his career.
Tell me that isn’t worth $60 million. We will know for sure on May 20th.
Thanks For Reading!