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Did our new third baseman just hit the market?

Cuban veteran Yulieski Gourriel has defected. He would bring an impact bat and a defensive upgrade to a relatively weak position for the Padres in 2016.

Koji Watanabe/Getty Images

Yulieski Gourriel has been a star in Cuba's Serie Nacional for over a decade.  The 31-year-old third baseman split 2015 between Cuba and the Japan Central League, so there is a preponderance of scouting information, which is rare for a Cuban player.  While his glove has been rated as above average at third base, the bat is what has made him a star.  He hits for a combination of average and power, with excellent on-base numbers.  Last April, Baseball America's Ben Badler listed him as the top prospect in Cuba, mentioning David Wright and Hanley Ramirez as realistic comps. His younger brother Lourdes is getting a lot of attention as a 22-year-old who might be able to play shortstop at the MLB level given a couple of years of development, but Yulieski has the kind of profile that suggests that he could step in to an everyday MLB role with success.  Now that both have reportedly defected while in the DR, the market should soon open up for these talented brothers.

Because of his age, Yulieski Gourriel is exempt from the international signing bonus rules, like Yasmany Tomas was a year ago.  While Tomas is a slugger whose defensive fit was (and still is) a subject for debate, Gourriel apparently has the tools and the acumen to be a defensive upgrade for a team like the Padres, and an upgrade at the plate as well.  Yangervis Solarte is slated to be the opening day third baseman.  He's an adequate glove and he's coming off a nice year at the plate, but the Padres can certainly upgrade at the position.  This would be a great upgrade.