Cuban Defector Cespedes Awaiting Legal Clearance

Cespedes awaiting clearance to sign contract

 By Zack Meisel / MLB.com

Yoenis Cespedes is not yet ready to sign with a Major League team after all.

Despite being declared a free agent on Jan. 25, the Cuban defector, who established temporary residency in the Dominican Republic in January, has not been legally cleared by the U.S. Treasury Department‘s Office of Foreign Assets Control, his agent, Adam Katz, told MLB Network Radio.

“I have never gone through this process before,” Katz said. “It is onerous and unpredictable. You just sort of have to breathe into it and not have too many expectations.”

The 26-year-old outfielder said he has narrowed his list of suitors to the Marlins, Tigers, Orioles, Cubs, White Sox and Indians. Katz said Cespedes can agree to terms with a club, but cannot officially sign a contract until the Office of Foreign Assets Control gives its approval.

“We still need to have him unblocked in order to execute a contract and have him play,” Katz said.

Katz remains optimistic that such a scenario will play out soon enough to allow Cespedes to arrive at Spring Training on time.

Marlins president David Samson was hopeful that the five-tool player will visit Miami in the coming weeks.

“If it can be arranged, and he wants to come to Miami and see our ballpark, it would be great,” Samson said. “From our standpoint, we are aggressively negotiating a contract, but there is no way of knowing if we will be a high bidder.”

In a brief stint in winter ball in the Dominican Republic, Cespedes went 5-for-35 (.143) with a home run and 10 strikeouts. He hit .333 with 33 home runs and 99 RBIs in 90 games in Cuba during the 2010-11 campaign. Cespedes was Cuba’s starting center fielder during the 2009 World Baseball Classic.

Zack Meisel is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @zackmeisel. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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