According to a report by Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith, 28-year-old Cuban catcher Yenier Bello has been cleared by Major League Baseball to sign with teams, and the Toronto Blue Jays are said to be among those to be interested. That said, the 28-year-old Bello still has to receive clearance from the United States’ Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) before he can enter negotiations of any sort. To receive clearance, he must set up residency outside of Cuba.
Bello is going to generate a significant amount of interest, as he has shown power from the catcher position, hitting .274 with 13 home runs while paying in Cuba in 2011. However, he has not played organized baseball since 2011, having been suspended by Cuba’s Serie Nacional after previously trying to flee the country.
The Blue Jays would seem like a natural fit as an interested party. The team’s current catcher, J.P. Arencibia, struggled through a season that saw him hit 21 home runs and drive in 55 runs, but also fail to climb past the Mendoza Line with a .194 average, a .227 on-base percentage, and 29.8% strike-out rate.
Toronto will face competition in landing Bello, as Nicholson-Smith also reports that the Philadelphia Phillies and Seattle Mariners could be interested as well. All interested teams are expected to see Bello hold a work-out in either Mexico or Arizona as soon as he is cleared by the UFAC.