04/07/10 3:45 PM ET
Hechavarria expected in Jays camp soon
Reports: Cuban shortstop has received visa; physical next
By Jordan Bastian / MLB.com
"Until we have something to announce, there's nothing to say," Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos wrote in an e-mail.
Since assuming Toronto's general manager duties at the end of last season, Anthopoulos has held steady to that approach when asked about any free-agent or trade negotiations. Nearly a month ago, news spread that the Jays had reached an agreement with Hechavarria on a four-year, $10 million contract, but Toronto has yet to officially acknowledge the signing.
According to published reports, Hechavarria has finally obtained a working visa -- a process that can take at least two weeks for Cuban defectors -- after being unblocked by the U.S. Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control in early March. The 21-year-old shortstop is expected to officially join one of Toronto's Minor League affiliates soon.
Bart Hernandez, the agent for Hechavarria and several other Cuban defectors, told the Toronto Star that his client was still in Cancun, Mexico, noting that he planned on heading to the Jays' complex in Dunedin, Fla., soon to undergo a physical. After that step, Anthopoulos will likely give clearance to officially announce the signing.
Anthopoulos has made it no secret that acquiring a high-impact shortstop has been a top priority of his since he took over as Blue Jays GM. Toronto has experienced a high turnover rate at the position in recent seasons and Anthopoulos hopes to find a solution. Hechavarria could fit within Anthopoulos' long-term plans for the organization.
"Everyone knows we've been looking for young, talented players, especially in the middle infield," Anthopoulos said on March 14. "We've talked about trying to get a shortstop, adding more depth and getting more prospects and so on, and we're going to continue to be involved on some of those guys and evaluate them."
Anthopoulos has noted in the past that the Blue Jays have scouted Hechavarria, who many believed would sign with the Yankees after being cleared for a visa. Reports have indicated that the 6-foot-1, 170-pound Hechavarria turned to the Jays after New York made it known that it planned on discussing a contract extension with shortstop Derek Jeter.
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.