Are Chicago White Sox close to signing prized prospect?

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Photo courtesy of TheCubanHistory.comLuis Robert, a standout 19-year-old Cuban outfielder, is eligible to sign with a major-league team beginning May 20.

    Photo courtesy of TheCubanHistory.comLuis Robert, a standout 19-year-old Cuban outfielder, is eligible to sign with a major-league team beginning May 20.

 
 
Updated 5/9/2017 9:17 PM

Mark May 20 on your calendar, Chicago White Sox fans.

That's the day 19-year-old Cuban outfielder Luis Robert is eligible to sign with a major-league team, and the Sox have long been one of the teams favored to land the young sensation.

 

According to Baseball America, White Sox vice president Kenny Williams and general manager Rick Hahn were in the Dominican Republic last week for a private workout with Robert.

That's a promising sign, but the St. Louis Cardinals, San Diego Padres, Oakland A's, Cincinnati Reds and Houston Astros also reportedly have worked out Robert.

Before Tuesday night's game against the Minnesota Twins at Guaranteed Rate Field, Hahn was asked about the 6-foot-3, 205-pound Robert.

"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.

Starting with Minnie Minoso and more recently with Jose Contreras, Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez, Alexei Ramirez, Dayan Viciedo, Jose Abreu and Yoan Moncada, the White Sox have been a successful landing spot for Cuban players.

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The Sox spent $68 million on Abreu before the 2014 season. The price for Robert is going to be similarly steep.

"I expect the bidding for this player will be extremely robust," 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 these next few weeks, this is really the last opportunity for certain clubs to exercise strictly their financial might in order to receive such a talent."

I asked Hahn if he was optimistic about signing Robert, who like Abreu and Moncada was a star player in Serie Nacional, Cuba's top league.

"I'm always optimistic," Hahn said. "It's much easier to go about life that way."

While the Sox wait on Robert, Hahn is still open to trading veteran players such as Jose Quintana and David Robertson for more young talent.

Hahn said calls from interested teams should pick up after the amateur draft that runs June 12-14.

As for trading Quintana to the Cubs, a deal that has been talked about since last year, Hahn said he'd have no problem swapping players with the North Side rivals.

"Any deal we make is about maximizing the future of the White Sox," Hahn said. "We are open to business to all 29 clubs. We've been willing to trade within our division, which has far more impact on our ability to compete.

"So there is zero issue doing a deal with the Cubs or any of the other 28 teams after them. We're about putting the White Sox in the best position."

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