Sep 25, 2009, 7:10 PM EDT
In a move that was widely expected to come either this month or in early October, Cuban defector Aroldis Chapman was declared a free agent on Friday.
Chapman made it through the red tape in record time, in large part because he managed to escape Cuba with his passport. The 21-year-old defected in July while taking part in the tournament held in the Netherlands and established residency in Andorra earlier this month.
Known for a fastball that has reportedly reached as high as 102 mph, Chapman has a chance to set a new record for a contract given to a Cuban defector, surpassing the four-year, $32 million deal Jose Contreras received from the Yankees after the 2002 season. He lacks polish and may require time in the minors before helping a contending team, but his youth and huge arm will land him a big deal. Expect usual suspects like the Yankees, Red Sox, Angels and Dodgers to express interest in the left-hander.
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