(Reuters) – The Houston Astros have signed highly touted Cuban free agent infielder Yulieski Gurriel to a multi-year deal and introduced him at a news conference on Saturday.
The Astros, second to inter-state rivals the Texas Rangers in the American League West, agreed to terms on a five-year contract worth $47.5 million with Gurriel on Friday, the Houston Chronicle reported.
“I’m very content,” Gurriel, 32, said through a translator. “I’ve waited a long time for this day.”
An Olympian in 2004, Gurriel played 15 professional seasons in Cuba, where he batted .335 and totaled 250 home runs and just over 1,000 RBIs.
Gurriel, who defected from Cuba after the Caribbean Series in February with his brother, 22-year-old Lourdes Gurriel Jr., a top outfield prospect, has been training in Miami.
In addition to the Astros, he also had private workouts for the Dodgers, Giants, Mets, Padres and Yankees.
Gurriel is headed to the minor leagues to tune up his swing before joining the Astros for their pennant run.
Houston general manager Jeff Luhnow said he was not sure how quickly Gurriel would be ready considering he also had to clear government red tape in getting a worker’s visa.
“But I will tell you something that I was impressed with when I went to Miami to work out Yulieski a few weeks ago .. he’s in great baseball shape.”
Gurriel also represented Cuba in all three World Baseball Classic tournaments and was part of Cuban championship teams at the Pan American Games, Central American Games, World Baseball Championships, International Cup and Caribbean Series.
The veteran infielder is accustomed to playing second base and third base but may also work out in the outfield for the Astros.
(Reporting by Larry Fine in New York; Editing by Andrew Both)