Luis Tiant. Jose Canseco. Mike Lowell. Jose Iglesias isn’t the first Cuban Red Sox, but he may have opened up the floodgates when he defected from the Cuban World Junior National Team in July, 2008.
Signed to an $8.25 million deal with a $6 million signing bonus, Iglesias was obviously the cream-of-the-crop and projects as the Red Sox shortstop of the future.
Agreeing to a $350,000 bonus, Cuban outfielder Jorge Padron falls short of such lofty expectations, but he remains an excellent offensive player with great upside.
Padron may also signal a new era in Cuban-Boston relations.
Just as the Red Sox hoped to achieve a beachhead in the Japanese baseball world when they paid Daisuke Matsuzaka’s mammoth posting fee and inked him to six-year deal, so may they hope that signing Iglesias warmed other Cuban ballplayers to Beantown.
To the casual baseball fan, the Daisuke Matsuzaka acquisition may appear a dud. However, that barstool analysis fails to consider the auxiliary benefits of penetrating the Asian markets and preparing the way for future signings.
Iglesias chose Boston, and that fact could mean a great deal to other Cuban-born players.
Not exactly the steal of the century, the left-handed Jorge Padron still demonstrates above-average hitting talent, particularly against righties. During the 2007 Cuban baseball season, Padron led the league with 131 hits.
Weaker against southpaws, Padron will need to demonstrate growth in that area if he’s to climb Boston’s thickly populated outfield ranks and make it to the Major League club.
Still, the contact-hitting Padron is only 22 years old. Although he’ll likely begin at high Single-A or AA ball, Padron has time find his way to Fenway.
Perhaps as he advances, Padron will join Iglesias in paving the way for more Cuban talent.