After unsuccessful bids on Cuban free agents Arodlis Chapman and Yoenis Cespedes in recent seasons, the Miami Marlins might have interest in trying their hand in attempting to sign a free agent from the island just 90 miles away from Key West.
According to Juan C. Rodriguez of the Sun-Sentinel, the Marlins have seen Cuban right handed pitcher Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez multiple times. According to Rodriguez, the Marlins see the 26-year old (if that’s his correct age) as a “major-league ready middle-of-the-rotation starter.”
Gonzalez, who is listed at 6-2 and 185 pounds, throws a fastball in the mid- 90’s, a changeup, forkball, and curveball. Gonzalez pitched in the World Cup of Baseball in 2009 and 2011, meaning major league teams have a good idea about his repertoire, despite the lack of video of him pitching.
I found one video of his for the Toros de Tijuana on June 28th. Gonzalez allowed just one run on five hits, and struck out five hitters.
The scout taking the video had Gonzalez throwing his fastball between 88-94 miles per hour.
He has barely pitched in Cuba over the past two seasons, as he was suspended for attempting to leave the country. He finally fled earlier this year. Maybe the Marlins could bring in Jose Fernandez to talk to Gonzalez and bond over their similar experiences to get to where they are now.
Although the Marlins are interested, Rodriguez’s source is not sure whether the Marlins will have the financial means to sign him, especially considering the heavy competition expected.
Since Gonzalez is older than 23 and has played in Cuba’s top league for more than three seasons, he will not be subject to MLB’s international spending cap, which could hurt the Marlins as the bidding gets more intense.
The Dodgers are considered the front runners to sign Gonzalez at this time, with scouts expecting the bidding to exceed the $42 million contract the Dodgers gave Yasiel Puig.
Along with the Dodgers, the Cubs, Red Sox, Rangers figure to be heavily involved in the bidding for the right handers services. The Cubs recently signed outfielder Jorge Soler out of Cuba and the Rangers and Sox have always spent heavily when necessary on international prospects.
The lure of Miami and it’s proximity of Cuba could be a lure for Gonzalez, but that did recently fail to attract Cespedes and Chapman. For Gonzalez to consider Miami, their offer would likely need to be at least competitive with the rest of the offers.
Ken Rosenthal recently mentioned that Marlins owner Jeffery Loria “is hell-bent on winning in the near future – and proving that he made the right baseball decisions when he tore apart his roster.”
A move to show fans and the major leagues that he is serious about winning, and soon would be to open his wallet for the Cuban starter, who could likely step right into the Marlins rotation and make an immediate impact.
The Marlins seem to be on the verge of moving starter Ricky Nolasco and with the recent struggled of Tom Koehler, the Marlins don’t have many viable long term solutions for at least one starting spot. Moving Nolasco should also free us significant salary, as Nolasco is slated to make $5.7 million the rest of the season, as Rodriguez points out:
"Beyond this season, the club’s only payroll commitments are Adeiny Hechavarria ($1.75 million), Jeff Mathis ($1.5 million) and Jacob Turner ($1 million). Players like Giancarlo Stanton and Steve Cishek should earn substantial raises as they enter their arbitration years, but not the kind that would blow out the 2014 payroll."
The Marlins would be wise to invest in the Cuban free agent, despite their recent failures to bring aboard Chapman and Cespedes in the previous few seasons.
Stay tuned to Marlin Maniac for the latest rumors surrounding the Miami Marlins.