The Dodgers dispatched three of their top scouts to Tijuana on Thursday to evaluate what could be their next great Cuban import.
As outfielder Yasiel Puig attracts attention in the major leagues, the Dodgers joined other major league clubs at a showcase for Cuban right-hander Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez. The 26-year-old right-hander could soon be available to the highest bidder.
Bob Engle, the Dodgers’ vice president of international scouting, led the Dodgers’ contingent to Mexico on Thursday. Rick Ragazzo, the vice president of professional scouting, and Mike Tosar, their Latin American scouting coordinator, also were in attendance.
Jaime Torres, the agent for Gonzalez, declined to say how many clubs sent representatives to the Tijuana showcase but said there was “a great turnout.”
The U.S. Treasury Department has yet to provide the necessary clearance for Gonzalez, a Cuban defector, to sign with an American team. Once that clearance is obtained, Major League Baseball would declare Gonzalez a free agent.
“That’s the only thing preventing us from moving on to negotiations,” Torres said.
Gonzalez fled Cuba for El Salvador earlier this year, and he has since taken up residence in Mexico.
The Dodgers signed Puig for $42 million last year, just ahead of the new international signing caps imposed by MLB. However, Gonzalez is exempt because of his age and experience in Cuba’s top league.
The Times’ Dylan Hernandez wrote this month that at least one scout believes Gonzalez could pitch in the major leagues this season.