Outfielder Dariel Alvarez has agreed to terms with the Baltimore Orioles, Alvarez told MLB.com on Thursday. Depending on the results of a physical, Alvarez could sign with the team Saturday for a deal reportedly worth $800,000.
Alvarez is a 24-year-old Cuban import. He defected from Cuba last summer and went to Mexico, where he played professionally for the Vera Cruz league. Alvarez was declared a free agent by the Commissioner's Office in January, and cleared to sign a professional baseball contract in the United States by the U.S. government in February. Alvarez said that he considered returning to Cuba at one point, but had a change of heart, via MLB.com:
"It's been very hard with a year full of ups and downs, but I knew it was best if I stayed here," said Alvarez, who starred in a showcase in front of scouts last month in Florida. "I give thanks to God that it all worked out. I'm ready. I'll go to whatever level they want me to go."
Alvarez throws and bats right-handed. He could play any of the three outfield spot, but a reportedly above-average arm may make him a stronger fit for center or right field. Alvarez shined in an open showcase in front of scouts from the Los Angeles Dodgers, Texas Rangers, Boston Red Sox, Kansas City Royals, Seattle Mariners, Arizona Diamondbacks, San Diego Padres and New York Yankees last month.
Mets blog Amazin' Avenue recently detailed Alvarez's story. Though MLB has recently seen several Cuban players have tremendous success -- notably Yasiel Puig and Yoenis Cespedes -- Alvarez may not be the same caliber player:
Though Yoenis Cespedes, Puig, and Soler all received large contracts over the past two years, either in terms of dollars or in contractual length, all are considered better overall talents than Alvarez. A contract tendered to Alvarez would certainly not have the annual value of Cespedes's contract ($9 million per year), the overall value of Puig's contract ($42 million), or the length of Soler's contract (nine years).