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Cuban Defectors Declared Free Agents


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January 8, 2003


Cuban defectors Maels Rodriguez and Yobal Due?as were declared free agents by Major League Baseball late Wednesday, making them eligible to negotiate with all 30 big-league organizations.


Rodriguez, a 24-year-old righthander, and Due?as, a 31-year-old second baseman/outfielder, left Cuba by boat in October and have spent the past two months establishing residency in the Central American nation of El Salvador. The players' Miami-based agent, Henry Vilar, said the pair would work out for scouts on Jan. 22, and he hopes to have them sign in time for the opening of spring training in mid February.


Rodriguez holds the single-season Cuban strikeout record, having fanned 263 in 178-1/3 innings three years ago and he is the only pitcher in post-revolution Cuba history to throw a perfect game. Vilar said a half-dozen teams, including the Yankees, Red Sox, Mets, Mariners and Rangers, are interested in him. Vilar has used the four-year $32 million contract the Yankees gave fellow defector Jose Contreras in December 2002 as a measuring stick for Rodriguez' asking price.


Due?as, a Cuban stolen base champion who hit .321 in 14 seasons, is expected to be wooed by the Cubs. The Marlins and Mets are also interested.






Marlins are interested, always nice to know our people are trying...

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