The Phillies have reached agreement with Cuban pitcher Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez on a six-year deal, $48MM deal, Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports reports. With bonuses, Gonzalez's contract could be worth as much as $59MM. MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez reported that Gonzalez's contract includes a vesting option for 2019, and Passan noted that the vesting option is worth $11MM.
Passan notes that, with the option, Gonzalez's deal would be bigger than the $56MM the Rangers gave Yu Darvish, and the guaranteed portion is already much more than the $42MM Yasiel Puig received from the Dodgers. The Red Sox were the other main contender for Gonzalez, who is represented by Jaime Torres.
Yesterday, it looked likely that Gonzalez would be making a decision soon, so the timing of the signing wasn't a surprise. Gonzalez fled Cuba this year, first to El Salvador and then to Mexico. Since he is over 23 and has played more than three seasons in a Cuban professional league, he is not subject to the international bonus pool system that limits bonuses that can be given to Dominican and Venezuelan players.
Gonzalez throws a mid-90s fastball, along with a curveball, splitter and changeup. In a scouting report for Baseball America, Ben Badler notes that Gonzalez's curveball is his weakest pitch and that his splitter and changeup are just "a tick above average." Scouts who like Gonzalez rate him as about a No. 3 starter in the big leagues, Badler says, while others think he might be a back-of-the-rotation starter or low-leverage reliever.
Badler says, however, that scouts mostly agree Gonzalez is a Major League talent. The 26-year-old is also fairly widely perceived as being big-league ready, or close to it, despite having not pitched much in the past two years after being suspended from the Cuban national team for trying to defect. Passan also notes that one factor in the Phillies' decision to sign Gonzalez is that they will soon be negotiating a new TV deal -- they're getting a big-league pitcher, and they'll have plenty of money with which to pay him.
Beyond that, it isn't yet absolutely clear how Gonzalez fits into the Phillies' long-term plans, although, as Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports writes, the Phillies' additional starting pitching depth might allow them to deal another starter, possibly Cliff Lee.