We learned yesterday that the Phillies have inked Cuban starter Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez to a six-year deal that includes $48MM in guaranteed money. To start the weekend, we'll take a look at some preliminary reactions to the deal:
- Gonzalez is a high-risk signing in more ways than one, reports ESPN's Buster Olney. (Twitter links.) Olney says that other teams saw "elbow questions" with Gonzalez to go along with his long layoff from pitching (in addition to the regular uncertainties with international signings). The perception around the league, according to Olney (more Twitter links), is that the Phillies must have seen this information more positively than most.
- On the topic of Gonzalez's risk-reward profile, one baseball executive told MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez (Twitter link) that, while the price tag was steep, the deal was understandable. Sanchez's source summed things up: "sometimes, you have to take a risk."
- The Phillies did not sign Gonzalez to help the team compete this year, though there is some possibility he will throw in the big leagues in 2013, writes Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Instead, says Rosenthal, the move signals the club's intentions to "restructure" the roster around a deep starting rotation.
- The Gonzalez signing represents both a new direction and a continued commitment for the Phillies and GM Ruben Amaro Jr., explains MLB.com's Todd Zolecki. Guaranteeing $48MM to an international player is, on the one hand, a stark departure for an organization that had never spent more than $1.2MM on any international prospect. Indeed, after Amaro's comments a month ago describing the risks of international splashes, it seemed the team would continue to stay its hand. But Amaro has also insisted repeatedly that he has every intention of delivering a contender this year and in the immediate future, and adding Gonzalez certainly appears designed to serve that end.
- For the Phils to have placed this large a bet on an international talent, says Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer, well-respected international scouting director Sal Agostinelli must have had his "fingerprints ... all over this signing." Many of the questions surrounding Gonzalez revolve around whether or not his splitter or slider are capable of delivering strikeouts, writes Gelb, making a scouting assessment critical in valuing the hurler.
- You can count fellow Cuban pitcher Jose Contreras among those who believe in Gonzalez, according to Rob Bradford of WEEI.com. Contreras, who has been strong in his short tenure with the top Red Sox affiliate since his recent signing, says that Gonzalez possesses the "mentality for the big leagues."