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Monday, December 19, 2011
Rep says Cuban OF nearing residency

By Enrique Rojas
ESPNDeportesLosAngeles.com

ORLANDO -- Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes could be granted residency in the Dominican Republic this week, a mandatory requirement to be declared a free agent by the commissioner's office.

"We'll hear about it tomorrow [Tuesday]. We are confident that Yoenis will receive his documents this week", said Edgar Mercedes, the player's representative in the Dominican Republic.

Mercedes, president of the Born To Play Academy, said Cespedes already received approval for a temporary residence from Dominican authorities. Cespedes will be represented by agent Adam Katz of Wasserman Group when approved by Major League Baseball.

Because the residence will be temporary and non-permanent, Cespedes will still need a license from the OFAC (Office of Foreign Affairs Control) to be "unlocked" and allowed to sign with a team. Beginning last January, a Cuban player only needs to obtain permanent residence in a third country in order to be signed as a free agent.

"The unlocking may take two weeks, but in January we'll be authorized to sign," Mercedes said. "We are on time to sign for the next season, because spring training will start on the second week of February."

Cespedes, 26, is being eyed by multiple major league teams after hitting at least .323 in his last four seasons. Cespedes also set a record-setting 33 home runs during the 2010-11 Cuban National Series season before escaping to the Dominican Republic.

Mercedes said Boston, Detroit, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Texas, the Chicago Cubs and the New York Yankees are the most interested in Cespedes.

Fellow Cuban Aroldis Chapman signed a $30 million contract with the Cincinnati Reds in 2010.

Enrique Rojas is a reporter and columnist for ESPNDeportes.com and ESPN.com.