More than a month after the Phillies reportedly agreed to a six-year, $48MM contract for Cuban right-hander Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, the team has officially announced that they have signed him to a drastically reduced three-year, $12MM contract with a vesting option for a fourth season.
Gonzalez's contract covers the 2014-16 seasons and also contains an undisclosed signing bonus and performance incentives. He has been placed directly on the 40-man roster, with John Lannan being transferred to the 60-day disabled list to clear a space. General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. offered the following statement regarding the signing:
“We are very pleased to have come to an agreement with Miguel. He is someone our scouts have followed for several years and in our most recent observations of him he showed tremendous stuff. We are hopeful he will pitch out of our starting rotation for 2014 and beyond.”
Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports tweets that the initial contract broke down due to concerns regarding Gonzalez's right elbow. The Phillies have now secured Gonzalez at a bargain rate compared to where the initial bidding began. A few weeks after that initial report, rumors began to circulate that the agreement was in jeopardy. Passan's tweet confirms what was speculated in those reports — elbow problems did indeed impact negotiations. Elbow troubles aren't exactly new for Gonzalez, as he'd previously had surgery to remove bone spurs from his right elbow.
Gonzalez drew heavy interest from a number of big league teams, but the Red Sox and Dodgers were said to have been two of the other teams very interested in signing him. Ben Badler of Baseball America offered a scouting report on Gonzalez prior to his initial agreement (subscription required), noting that he features a fastball, splitter, changeup and curveball in his four-pitch mix. His fastball sits in the low- to mid-90s, and his splitter and changeup are slightly above-average pitches, according to Badler. Badler also notes that Gonzalez's curve is his weakest offering. Badler adds that while some scouts see him as a No. 3 starter, others see him as a middle reliever because they don't believe his stuff will hold up when facing MLB hitters multiple times in an outing.
With Gonzalez in the fold, the Phillies will now presumably be looking at a top three of Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels and Gonzalez for the foreseeable future, with other candidates such as Jonathan Pettibone, Ethan Martin and Tyler Cloyd as candidates for the remaining spots. Kyle Kendrick projects as their fourth starter in 2014 but is a free agent after that year.