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11/07/11 2:52 PM EST

Marlins in mix for highly touted Cuban outfielder

MIAMI -- One of the Marlins' most coveted offseason targets may wind up being an outfielder who has yet to play in the big leagues.

Yoennis Cespedes, a 26-year-old Cuban defector, is receiving serious consideration from the Marlins, a source confirmed to MLB.com. So much so that team owner Jeffrey Loria plans on joining a Marlins contingent that will head to the Dominican Republic to watch Cespedes work out on Thursday.

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports the Marlins are regarded as the front-runner to sign the Cuban native, who is expected to be declared a free agent later this month. Cespedes defected from Cuba last summer.

Regarded as a five-tool player, Cespedes made a strong impression while playing for Cuba in the 2009 World Baseball Classic.

Cespedes' asking price is expected to rival the $30 million Cuban pitcher Aroldis Chapman received to sign with the Reds in January 2010.

The Yankees, Nationals and Phillies also are reportedly interested in the 26-year-old outfielder.

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.