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updated: 5/19/2017 9:34 PM

Can White Sox close deal on Cuban sensation Luis Robert?

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  • Beginning Saturday, Luis Robert is eligible to sign with a major-league team. The 19-year-old outfielder from Cuba has five-tool potential and the Chicago White Sox and St. Louis Cardinals are reportedly the favorites to sign Robert.

    Beginning Saturday, Luis Robert is eligible to sign with a major-league team. The 19-year-old outfielder from Cuba has five-tool potential and the Chicago White Sox and St. Louis Cardinals are reportedly the favorites to sign Robert.
    Associated Press

 
 

In February 2012, Yoenis Cespedes signed a major-league contract after defecting from Cuba.

The Marlins were considered heavy favorites to land the power-hitting outfielder, and the White Sox, Cubs, Orioles, Tigers and Indians were also rumored to be on Cespedes' short list.

The Athletics, never even mentioned, wound up signing Cespedes.

The moral of the story?

Never believe rumors, specifically the ones regarding Luis Robert, the latest Cuban sensation heading to the major leagues.

Robert, a 19-year-old outfielder with five-tool potential, is free to sign with a big-league club beginning Saturday.

According to Baseball America, the Cardinals and White Sox are the two teams most likely to sign Robert, and both teams reportedly were in the Dominican Republic earlier this month to watch the 6-foot-2, 180-pounder in private workouts.

When asked about Robert on the Sox's last homestand, general manager Rick Hahn said he expected the bidding to be "robust" but was optimistic.

"I've seen the publications that have had us in the mix and certainly understand why people would believe we'd be in the mix given how nicely he could conceivably fit with not only what we're trying to do in a rebuild but our history with similar such players," Hahn said. "He's an extremely talented young man who is going to have an impact on whatever organization he winds up joining, and given the fact the collective bargaining agreement changes how these players are treated here, this is really the last opportunity for certain clubs to exercise strictly their financial might in order to receive such a talent."

Two things here.

First, Hahn was referring to "similar" White Sox players that came from Cuba, including current first baseman Jose Abreu and top prospect Yoan Moncada.

Robert and the 21-year-old Moncada played against each other in Cuba but I'm told "they got to know each other but aren't close friends."

Second, this is the last year major-league teams can spend whatever they want on an international player. There will be a cap beginning in 2018.

The price tag on Robert is speculated to be as much as $25 million, a high price to pay for a 19-year-old player.

You would think the White Sox would not fare well in a bidding war against a team like the Cardinals.

But as the Sox ease into a rebuild, finding talented young outfielders remains priority No. 1.

Signing Robert would be a very good start.

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