Giants sign Cuban OF Daniel Carbonell to major league contract

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The best team in the National League added another potential star to their already productive OF.

The San Francisco Giants announced this morning that they had agreed to a Major League contract with free agent Cuban OF Daniel Carbonell.

According to Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com, Carbonell received a four-year deal that guarantees $3.5M and includes another $3.5M in incentive clauses that can push its total value to $7M.

Carbonell, 23, is a switch hitting outfielder who many consider a five-tool talent (with power being the only potential knock on him), and he hit .287 while averaging over 20 steals per season in his four seasons in Cuba's Serie Nacional.  As MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez reported, he'll make $3.5 million guaranteed over the 4 years on his contract, with the potential for an additional $3.5 million in performance bonuses tied in.  Carbonell had been seeking a contract no longer than 4 years in length, presumably because that would allow him to test the free agent market at a more in-prime age than the 5, 6, and 7 year offers that had reportedly been sent his way.

While Carbonell has been on the free agent market since defecting from Cuba over the winter, the importance of him signing prior to July 2nd should not be underestimated.  As Sanchez noted on May 19th, any Cuban player signed after July 2nd would be required to have a minimum of 5 seasons of experience in Cuba's Serie Nacional, and to date Carbonell only has 4 seasons under his belt.  Also of note is that if he waited to sign until after July 2nd, his contract would count towards next season's international bonus pool for whichever team signed him.

The move is a bit odd considering the Giants have Hunter Pence, Angel Pagan, and Michael Morse entrenched as their starting outfield, and their collective outfield ranks in the top handful of team stats in wOBA, wRC+, OPS, and runs created.  In fact, the Giants hadn't been mentioned as key players in chasing Carbonell, as the New York Yankees and Seattle Mariners had been the presumptive finalists for his signature.  However, there is precedent for Cuban defectors signing Major League contracts and then being shipped immediately to the minors, as the Los Angeles Dodgers have kept Alex Guerrero in the minors for all but two games in the first year of his 4 year contract.

Should the Giants opt to include him on their 25-man roster, they'll have a tough decision to make.  Among their reserve OFs, Tyler Colvin has outhit Gregor Blanco so far in 2014, and while they've brought power and defense to the table respectively, Blanco is out of options while Colvin still has one left.

The Giants had an available spot open on their 40-man roster prior to Carbonell's signing, so while there won't need to be a corresponding move, their roster is now full.

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