Miami needs to make a splash in the international free agent market this offseason. The Marlins should look no further than Cuban prospect Dariel Alvarez. Alvarez is a 24-year-old outfielder who could potentially help make the Marlins 2013 season a little bit more enjoyable. The Marlins needs to start taking risks with international free agents and signing Dariel Alvarez is a perfect place to start.
Dariel Alvarez is a right-handed hitter who is listed at 6'1', 190 pounds. He can play center field but most think he is more of a corner outfielder long-term. In his time in Cuba, Alvarez started to show more power as he got older. This is unlike Yoenis Cespedes, who showed power pretty much the moment he started playing professionally in Cuba. Cespedes was a much better prospect than Alvarez, but Alvarez could still command well over $30 million.
Alvarez possesses slightly above-average speed and a very strong arm. Similar to Cespedes, Alvarez could flourish defensively if he was put in right field for one season. Unlike many Cuban baseball players, Alvarez seemed to have figured out in 2009 that plate discipline can help earn him a big contract. His plate discipline and approach have been improving every year since.
Part of the reason that Dariel Alvarez has kind of flew under the radar compared to other international free agents is that he did not officially become a free agent until December 14th. He defected from Cuba in the summer of 2012 and established residency in Mexico, where he has been playing winter ball to tune up for the 2013 season; currently, Alvarez is second in La Liga Invernal Veracruzana in doubles. Alvarez will workout for teams on January 5th in Mexico, according to Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com.
It is reasonable to expect that Dariel Alvarez will play in the majors in 2013. The chances of him starting the season with a major league club are very slim, but he should start no lower than Double-A. After all, Alvarez is already 24. He is already older than Giancarlo Stanton and with all of the lies MLB teams have been told, Alvarez very well could be even older than he is listed as.
Dariel Alvarez might be the most talented outfielder to come from Cuba since Yasiel Puig, Jorge Soler, and Yoenis Cespedes. Alvarez has the potential to become the starting left fielder in Miami, and if given the opportunity, I would not be surprised if he ran with it. The Marlins had interest in Cespedes and Soler, but they were not willing to take a risk and pay a prospect at such a high price. Miami needs to realize that by signing a talent like Alvarez, they could be rewarded just like Oakland has been with Cespedes.