It’s times likes these that, even though Ruben Amaro can’t assemble a well-rounded baseball team to save his life (or job…), we appreciate his balls-out bidding. According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports, the Phillies have agreed to a six-year, $48 million deal with
Stephen Nebraska Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, the Cuban pitcher who defected to Mexico in February:
Gonzalez, 26, wowed scouts after defecting to Mexico in February and rode the success of recent Cuban ballplayers as well as a change in international free agency rules to a payday that with bonuses would exceed the $56 million given to Texas Rangers starter Yu Darvish. The guarantee alone beats the previous high for a Cuban, $42 million from the Los Angeles Dodgers to Yasiel Puig.
The deal is worth a guaranteed $48 million over six years with a seventh-year vesting option for $11 million, the source said.
The Phillies are expected to send Gonzalez to the minor leagues for some seasoning before summoning him to the major leagues by mid-August.
Bolstered by the prospect of a new television deal that could reach more than $5 billion, the signing of Gonzalez shows the Phillies are taking a retool-over-rebuild approach and still harbor aspirations of winning the National League East this season, even amid a six-game losing streak that has them at 49-54 and 8 ½ games behind the first-place Atlanta Braves.
It’s foolish that the Phillies still consider themselves in contention, and though this is a risky signing, there’s nothing to do but applaud it and be amazed at how the Phillies have made a BIG splash in handing out the largest contract ever given to an international player. Passan says that the Phillies outbid the Red Sox for MAG.
The deal reportedly includes a vesting option for a seventh year worth $11 million.
Not a ton of information about MAG exists online. His arsenal apparently includes a mid-90s fastball, changeup, forkball and curve ball.
“He’s a real talent,” said one scout to Scott Miller of CBSSports.com in June. “He had some bone spurs, and he’s still building up, but his stuff is top shelf. He threw it over the plate, and he can make it move. He’s really good.
“He’s like a classic Cuban guy in that he toys with all [his pitches]. He throws a curve that’s bigger, he makes it go wide, he throws it straight down … it’s like 10 different pitches. And he throws them all over the plate.”
Gonzalez is said to throw in the 94-95 mph range with his fastball while touching 96. He held several workouts and showcases in Mexico before signing.
The Fightin’s are likely to send Gonzalez to the minor leagues for some tune-up starts before summoning to him to the big leagues, which might not happen until next year. At that price, he’ll be expected to be an above-average starter right away.
Still, MAG might not be an ace. Baseball folks told Jayson Stark that he is anywhere from 2-3 starter to back-of-the-rotation guy.
Cliff Lee is scratched from his start on Saturday due to a stiff neck. It’s fair to speculate if signing MAG, who will cost significantly less than Lee, means the Phils will try to trade Lee, free up some money and rebuild. Maybe. But more likely, signing MAG means the Phils, for better or worse, are retooling and not rebuilding. In that case, they’d want to keep Lee. One Phillie called his stiff neck “totally legit.”
Perhaps MAG is totally legit too.