It took an extra six months longer than expected, but the delay in the International Free Agency (IFA) period did not derail the Chicago Cubs agreement with Cristian Hernandez for $3 million according to Jesse Sanchez of MLB Pipeline. With a talented player like Hernandez, until he could officially agree to a deal, there was always a concern the agreement could fall through. Thankfully that matter is now settled.
Cristian Hernandez is widely considered one of the primer talents in this IFA class. Opinions on him vary, with some comps ranging from all-stars in Manny Machado and Javier Baez to unbelievable-level talents like Alex Rodriguez (who has a compelling case of being the best prospect of all time). Other prospect evaluators have tempered expectations labeling him one of the better international free agents. The reports on Hernandez from more level-headed reviews are still glowing. Eric Longenhagen at Fangraphs provides this excerpt from his write-up. Fangraphs writes “His infield actions are smooth and athletic, his swing has a gorgeous, pronounced finish, and he has the right amount of overt physical projection that may see him mature into the unteachable, star-making Goldilocks Zone where Hernandez stays at short and also has impact power.” Hernandez is an elite talent.
Baseball America has an excellent write-up on Hernandez (subscription required) if you want to feel giddy. Hernandez is the most talented IFA Cubs signing since 2013 when the club inked both Gleyber Torres and Eloy Jiménez. One less heroic comp thrown on Hernandez from Baseball America is that of Marco Luciano, the San Francisco Giants stud shortstop prospect. Luciano was a top IFA prospect in the 2018 signing period. Within two years he became MLB pipeline’s 29th ranked prospect overall at the age of 19. The article is full of encouraging notes about the young shortstop. Included in which is this succinct summary of Hernandez’s present tools and future projection.
The most talented Dominican shortstop in this year’s class, Hernandez will earn his bonus thanks to a combination of a powerful bat and a body that looks like it will add strength without forcing him to move off shortstop.Josh Norris of Baseball America
Fans won’t likely see Cristian Hernandez stateside until the Cubs instructional league next year, but if he progresses on a similar timeline, he could be a top prospect within 2-3 years. The Cubs have placed a significant emphasis on strengthening the shortstop position within the organization. Cristian Hernandez is an important part of that strength and offers superstar potential. There is always risk with players from the IFA demographic, primarily due to unknowns that come with making agreements with players so young. Every year there are players signed for significant bonuses who never make it to the majors. But today is not a day for such (often accurate) pessimism. Today is a day to celebrate incorporating a player with unbelievable talent into the Cubs organization.