Indians Sign Cuban Defector

Cuban pitcher Danys Baez, who defected during the Pan American Games this summer, has signed a four-year contract with the Cleveland Indians.

The Indians announced the signing Saturday. Contract terms were not disclosed.

Baez was listed at 19 years old in August when he left Cuba's team shortly before it won the gold medal at the Pan American Games at Winnipeg, Manitoba. Later, agent Joe Cubas said the right-hander was 22.

Last month, about a dozen scouts showed up at a stadium in San Jose, Costa Rica, to watch the 6-for-4, 225-pound Baez work out. They said his 98 mph fastball might get him to the majors.

The exhibition was organized by Cubas, who has helped other Cuban baseball players flee their communist country.

Cubas obtained temporary residence for Baez in Costa Rica. That exempted Baez from the major league draft and made him a free agent.

Another Cubas client is defector Orlando Hernandez, an established star in the Cuban league who signed a $6.6 million, four-year contract with the New York Yankees that has since turned out to be a bargain.

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