According to Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com, the Red Sox are close to agreeing to terms with Cuban second baseman Yoilan Cerse on a minor league contract.
Now 28 years of age, Cerse has had a relatively successful career in Cuba’s Serie Nacional but brings little upside to the table. In 9 seasons in Cuba, he owns a career slash line of .325/.395/.468. Cerse has showed some modest power throughout his career but his real value comes in his ability to reach base. In addition to his career .325 average, he only has hit under .300 once in his career (though it’s somewhat concerning that this drop came in his most recent season) and has struck out at an impressive 7.6%, exactly equal to his walk rate.
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Cerse has spent the majority of his playing time at second base but Sean McAdam of CSSNE.com suggests that the Red Sox intend to transform Cerse into a utility man. The Red Sox have coveted versatility in recent seasons, with Brock Holt representing the team’s most recent success story, and with Cerse’s solid athleticism and baseball acumen, a jack-of-all-trades role is not out of the question.
The deal is not yet finalized and there’s no indication of the value of Cerse’s signing bonus, but don’t expect it to be anything significant. At 28 years old, Cerse is exempt from the international signing pool and could theoretically sign an expensive major league contract like Rusney Castillo did a year ago. However, this deal is supposedly a minor league deal and Cerse likely won’t acquire a seven-digit contract as bigger names have done in recent seasons.
It will be interesting to see how the Red Sox plan to utilize Cerse, as there is no shortage of infield depth in Boston. Dustin Pedroia, Xander Bogaerts, and Pablo Sandoval figure to anchor three quarters of the infield for the foreseeable future while Hanley Ramirez, Mookie Betts, and Castillo all represent major parts of the team’s future in the outfield. Cerse may never play a regular role with the Red Sox but there’s nothing wrong with acquiring depth and he could turn out to be a useful player.