If there’s a Cuban baseball player on the open market, it’s almost a guarantee that they will be linked to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
After signing Yasiel Puig, Alex Guerrero and Erisbel Arruebarrena, the Dodgers were rumored to be interested in a handful of Cuban prospects this offseason and are still considered in the running for infielder Hector Olivera. While the Dodgers did not end up signing any of the players that were speculated this winter, it appears they have made a deal with a player from Cuba.
According to Ben Badler of Baseball America, the Dodgers have reportedly signed a right-handed pitcher:
The Dodgers have agreed to sign 25-year-old Cuban righthander Pablo Millan Fernandez for an $8 million bonus on a minor league contract, Baseball America has learned. The deal, which is exempt from the international bonus pools, is still pending a physical.
Fernandez pitched in the Serie Nacional last season, posting a 2.83 ERA with 36 strikeouts in 57.1 innings. He pitched mostly from the bullpen in Cuba; however, Badler reports that he will enter the Minors as a starting pitcher. The right-hander could start the year in Advanced-A or Double-A, depending on his readiness.
Not known for his lights-out stuff, Fernandez has been able to reach the 90s with his fastball recently after being clocked in the mid-to-high-80s previously. He adds a curveball, slider and changeup to the mix, and throws from a variety of arm slots. If he’s set to be a starting pitcher, the Dodgers could decide to have him pick an arm slot for consistency purposes.
Because the deal is a Minor-League deal and Fernandez’s age, the Dodgers will not be subject to international signing guideline penalties or luxury tax penalties.
Dodgers 2015 Spring Training – Darnell Sweeney