Rosenthal: Yanks among teams scouting Cuban outfielder Alexei Bell

The Five Most Important Storylines of the Spring [2016 Spring Training Preview]
Aaron Judge and the Outer Half of the Plate

The Yankees were among the 13 teams scouting Cuban outfielder Alexei Bell at his recent showcase in Mexico, reports Ken Rosenthal. The other dozen teams scouting him were the usual heavy hitters (Dodgers, Red Sox, Giants, etc.). Bell is still going through the process of becoming a free agent, so he can’t sign just yet.

Bell, 32, left Cuba with his family with the government’s permission last year. “Physically, I don’t feel 32. I feel strong. I feel young. I feel agile,” he said to Rosenthal. “I feel I can still produce a lot on the field. I do not feel old at all … I’ll demonstrate that in the games.” Here are his recent stats, via Baseball Reference:

2011 27 0.8 Santiago de Cuba 81 350 91 19 0 18 69 16 9 53 35 .327 .449 .590 1.038
2012 28 1.6 Santiago de Cuba 21 85 20 2 1 2 6 0 1 17 9 .303 .452 .455 .907
2013 29 1.5 Santiago de Cuba 44 179 43 11 0 8 24 3 2 21 13 .277 .374 .503 .878
2014 30 3.1 2 Teams 58 251 64 11 2 8 28 9 3 45 29 .323 .450 .520 .970
2015 31 Quebec 59 241 71 14 2 2 23 11 6 14 24 .317 .363 .424 .787
All Levels (15 Seasons) 718 3682 998 201 33 140 655 132 51 445 463 .319 .414 .539 .952

Bell, who is listed at a mere 5-foot-7 and 187 lbs., spent last season in an independent league and performed well, though not as well as he had in Cuba over the years. He’s starred in international competition while being teammates with Jose Abreu and Yoenis Cespedes, among others.

“In (the 2008) Olympics, he was in his prime, a Raul Mondesi-type who could run and throw, had power — he was the guy,” said a scout to Rosenthal. “He’s not the same player now. I know he has numbers in Cuba. But he’s not the same powerful little guy, little but strong.”

Last month Ben Badler (subs. req’d) said Bell “is a smart hitter with a good approach … (but) there just aren’t many corner outfielders his size who aren’t speedsters, and Bell is a fringy runner who doesn’t have plus power.” Badler adds scouts loved Bell when he was in his 20s and feel he should have tried to leave Cuba ten years ago. Those same scouts are “skeptical of him being an everyday big leaguer.”

It’s good the Yankees are scouting Bell simply because they should do their due diligence on everyone, but signing a 32-year-old outfielder with no MLB track record doesn’t make any sense right now. Beyond their three starting outfielders they have Aaron Hicks and Dustin Ackley, plus a small army of Triple-A outfielders (Slade Heathcott, Mason Williams, Ben Gamel, Aaron Judge, Lane Adams, even Tyler Austin). There’s no room at the inn.

If the Yankees are going to splurge for the 30-something Cuban player, it should be Yulieski Gurriel, who’s a better player than Bell and fills a more pressing need on the infield. He and his brother Lourdes Jr. told Jesse Sanchez they’d like to sign with a team as a package deal, which would be pretty cool. Point is I don’t see much of a fit with Bell. There’s always a price point where it makes sense, but given the team’s outfield depth, that price point figures to be pretty low.

The Five Most Important Storylines of the Spring [2016 Spring Training Preview]
Aaron Judge and the Outer Half of the Plate