White Sox to sign international free-agent outfielder Yoelqui Cespedes

Yoelqui Cespedes, the top international outfield prospect, according to MLB Pipeline, is reportedly expected to sign with the White Sox next month.

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Yoelqui Cespedes, considered the top international outfield prospect by MLB Pipeline, is expected to sign with the White Sox next month, according to reports.

Cespedes, 23, the younger half-brother of free-agent outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, is expected to receive a $2 million bonus. Considered a five-tool player, he is ranked 12th among international prospects by Baseball America. His earliest arrival in the majors would probably be 2022.

The delayed international signing period begins Jan. 15. The Sox are not yet confirming the deal, which MLB.com and Baseball America reported Tuesday.

Cespedes defected from the Cuban national team in June 2019 and has since added 15 pounds of muscle. Per Baseball America, the 5-9 Cespedes “has a shorter but strong, athletic frame with added bulk since leaving Cuba, showing good bat speed and a strong arm from the outfield.”

Cespedes will join a Sox organization rich in Cuban history and talent — most notably current stars Jose Abreu, Yoan Moncada and Luis Robert and past stars Minnie Minoso, Alexei Ramirez, Jose Contreras and Orlando Hernandez.

The Sox, who signed Cuban shortstop Yolbert Sanchez for $2.5 million last year, are also expected to sign Cuban right-hander Norge Vera, whom MLB Pipeline ranks 20th.

The Sox have been one of the more active teams this offseason, trading for right-hander Lance Lynn and signing free-agent outfielder Adam Eaton as they plug pieces into what they believe will be a championship roster under new manager Tony La Russa.

“The work of the front office — they’ve got the roster [to something] special to this point, and to come in this winter and add Lance and add Adam Eaton, it’s gotten every-body fired up,” La Russa said Monday. “It just makes us more of a serious contender.”

With closer Alex Colome becoming a free agent, the Sox are turning their attention to a ninth-inning reliever. They have been linked to free agent Liam Hendriks.

“You do the best you can to identify that late-inning closer,” La Russa said. “I know our front office is working hard to make it happen.”

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