Odrisamer Despaigne cleared to sign MLB deal

Koji Watanabe

Now that all the paperwork is done, the Cuban righty is free to sign an MLB contract.

Odrisamer Despaigne has been cleared by the United States Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), and can now enter into an agreement with a Major League team, according to MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez.

Despaigne, 26, is represented by Jaime Torres -- Yasiel Puig's agent. He has already held two showcases for big league scouts in Mexico, and he might hold another event before signing as scouts attempt to add to their evaluations.

From 2010 to 2013 in Cuba's Serie Nacional, he threw 647⅓ innings for Industriales, posting a 3.38 ERA and 1.35 WHIP. His control appears to be an issue, 3.7 BB/9 over that span, but he's been a "workhorse" in Cuba -- he has started at least 20 games a year since becoming a starter in 2010 (h/t to ObstructedView.net).

Despaigne doesn't appear to be a dynamic, game-changing talent, but it's hard to be sure about him since there is such little public information available on him to date. Scouts from the Giants, Yankees, Phillies, Mariners, and Mets have reportedly been following his protracted journey to the US.

ESPN first reported his defection in July, citing Cuban state newspaper Granma, but the specific date of his escape is unknown. They claim Despaigne defected while competing in the World Port Tournament in Europe with the country's national team -- the same method Aroldis Chapman used to make his way to the States.

In other news from the island, catching prospect Yenier Bello has also been cleared to sign a Major League deal by OFAC. The 28-year-old has been scouted by the Dodgers, Cubs, and Blue Jays. He's expected to sign before spring training.

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