After quite possibly the worst weekend of regular-season Giants baseball in decades, there's finally something to get excited about. According to a press release from the team, the Giants have signed 23-year-old switch-hitting center fielder Daniel Carbonell, who defected from Cuba last October. According to Henry Schulman, the deal is worth $3.175 million over four years.
Let's look at the downside of a move like this:
With that out of the way, let's look at the upside. You can probably tell by the size of the bonus that we shouldn't expect our own Yasiel Puig, a majors-ready force of nature. But he has tools. So many tools. Here's a Baseball America article on Carbonell:
One scout clocked him going from home to first from the right side in 4.0 seconds, which translates to 80 speed on the 20-80 scale.
Oh, man. That's even faster than Jean Machi. The rest of the article details how scouts are split on Carbonell's hit tool, and there's a chance that he'll never hit enough to be a valuable player. Except he's making less money annually over the next four years than Brett Pill is making from the Kia Tigers this year. There is no risk, other than a wasted roster spot, with a tremendous upside.
As a reminder, the last time the Giants signed a Cuban defector was in 1996, when they signed Osvaldo Fernandez, who was possibly 78 years old. According to MLB.com, Carbonell was looking for a four-year deal, ostensibly because that would spit him back onto the market as a 27-year-old in his prime. The Giants' ability to give him that and a 40-man spot might have been the deciding factor. David Huff just gave us a gift, everyone.
We should probably, I don't know, let Carbonell play a professional game in America before getting too excited about him, but it's rare to see an no-risk/all-reward move like this in baseball. This morning, the Giants didn't have a well-regarded switch-hitting center fielder with Mike Trout-like speed in the system. Now they do. I love it when that happens.