NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A Cuban baseball superstar is on the free agent market and is reportedly interested in joining the Yankees.
Infielder Yulieski Gourriel, 32, and his brother, Lourdes Gourriel Jr., 22, arrived in the United States after defecting from Cuba in February. Major League Baseball announced Monday it has cleared Yulieski Gourriel to sign with a team.
Yulieski Gourriel has played 14 seasons in Cuba and one in Japan. He has batted .335 in his career with 250 homers and more than 1,000 RBIs. Last season, he hit .500 with 15 home runs in 49 games for Industriales of the Cuban League.
He also was a member of the Cuban national team during the 2008 Olympics and the past three World Baseball Classics.
Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman told NJ.com that Yulieski Gourriel, his former teammate on the Cuban national team, would love to play for the Bronx Bombers and has been asking him questions about the team. Yulieski Gourriel’s favorite team is the Yankees and his favorite player is Alex Rodriguez, Chapman said.
Yulieski Gourriel has played mainly third base and second base, but scouts believe he can also play in left field or right field.
Lourdes Gourriel is a second baseman who has hit .277 with 27 homers in six seasons in Cuba. His free agent status was not clear Monday. In February, MLB.com reported that the two brothers were hoping to sign with the same team.