Giants Sign Cuban Outfielder Daniel Carbonell

The Giants signed Cuban outfielder Daniel Carbonell to a major league contract and have placed him on their 40-man roster, the team announced today. Carbonell signed for $1.4 million in guaranteed money, with a $1 million bonus on top of a a four-year contract that will pay him $100,000 per year if he’s in the minor leagues or baseline salaries of $500,000, $525,000, $550,000 and $600,000 if he’s in the major leagues, per the Associated Press.

According to several scouts, the 6-foot-3, 196-pound Carbonell looks good in a workout, where he can showcase his athleticism and blazing speed, but there are reservations about his hitting. 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. With an arm that scouts have thrown average to plus grades on, the 23-year-old Carbonell has the tools to be a good defensive center fielder. He has 50-55 raw power, but scouts have been hesitant to warm up to his bat. Carbonell has been switch-hitting, with scouts saying he struggles to hit righthanded and that he may have to drop his lefty stroke altogether.

“Things don’t come easily to him, except for running,” said one scout. “He doesn’t handle the bat that well. The swing is very mechanical. There’s not a lot of looseness to that swing.”

Carbonell was never on the Cuban national team and didn’t play much for his team in Cuba, Camaguey, until fellow Camgeury outfielders Dariel Alvarez (now with the Orioles) and Dayron Varona (who defected and has been training in the Dominican Republic) left the island. In his final season, 2012-13, Carbonell batted .298/.369/.449 in 223 plate appearances with 15 walks and 32 strikeouts, five home runs and nine stolen bases in 13 attempts.

Carbonell does have tools to work with, and he will almost certainly start his career in the minors, with high Class A perhaps a fit given his present ability, though at 23 there may be a temptation to get him to Double-A. Some scouts think that if his bat comes around, he could develop into a fourth outfielder, possibly along the lines of Roger Bernadina, though Bernadina was more advanced at the same age.

Since Carbonell has played four seasons in Cuba (if you include his 2009-10 debut, when he had only one at-bat) and is 23, he is exempt from the international bonus pools. Had he waited to sign until after July 2, when Cuban players are required to be 23 and have at least five seasons to be exempt, his signing would have been subject to the pools.

Carbonell fits the mold of athletic but raw international players the Giants have targeted in recent years with their top bonuses, including Dominican outfielder Gustavo Cabrera in 2012 and Venezuelan outfielder Mikey Edie last year. Carbonell is represented by the Culture 39 agency.