Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez Rumors

Phillies Sign Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez

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.


Rosenthal On Gonzalez, Peavy, DeJesus, Lohse

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports released his latest Full Count video today. Let's take a look:

  • Discussing the Phillies' ongoing negotiations with Cuban righty Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, Rosenthal notes that that delays of this kind typically develop after a team finds a problem with a player's physical. If there is cause for concern, the Phillies could incorporate protective language into the contract or sign Gonzalez to a smaller deal than the six-year, $48MM pact that was reported last month.
  • Recent Red Sox acquisition Jake Peavy told Rosenthal that he was prepared to move money around in his contract to facilitate a trade from the White Sox to the Cardinals, or any other team that asked him to do so. However, the Cardinals never made an offer for Peavy.
  • Rival executives suggest to Rosenthal that the Nationals' waiver claim of David DeJesus may have been a mistake. The quality of prospect that the Nats obtain from the Rays for DeJesus could hint at the impetus behind the deal, Rosenthal says.
  • The Braves were the team that claimed Kyle Lohse after the Brewers placed him on waivers earlier this month, and hoped to use him as a replacement for the injured Tim Hudson. However, the Brewers opted not to try to work out a deal. They may attempt to move him in the offseason, however, as the two years and $22MM remaining on his deal could be attractive in the weak free agent market.

NL Notes: Mets, Manuel, Wilson, Choo, Abreu

The Pirates' failure to sign Mark Appel with the eighth overall selection in the 2012 draft created a ripple effect where the Mets passed on free agent Michael Bourn and eventually gave playing time to rookie Juan Lagares, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post. As compensation for not coming to terms with Appel, the Pirates were awarded the ninth overall pick in this past June's draft, knocking the Mets' choice (11th) out of the protected Top Ten. This was an important considersation for the Mets in deciding to not bid on Bourn, explains Sherman, who cites this as a pefect example of "sometimes the best moves are the ones you don't make." Here's news from other NL teams who aren't neccessarily going to follow that old adage:

  • Ex-Phillies manager Charlie Manuel told Jim Bowden and Jim Duquette of MLB Network Radio (via Bowden on Twitter) he wants to continue managing and is open to all opportunities, including the Nationals
  • In that same interview (also from a Bowden tweet), Manuel says the Phillies' plan is to "reload," not "rebuild," needing regular players to fill holes, including adding a starter, and redoing the bullpen. 
  • Speaking of the Phillies, little has changed with the radio silence regarding their agreement with Cuban right-hander Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, according to MLB.com's Todd Zolecki, who reported earlier this month the two sides have hit a snag in finalizing their six-year, $48MM deal.
  • Dodgers manager Don Mattingly told reporters, including Ken Gurnick of MLB.com, they will have a better idea at the end of today when Brian Wilson will be activated. GM Ned Colletti was a guest of Bowden and Duquette on MLB Network Radio and said the call should be made in "another day or two" (as quoted by Gurnick's colleague, Andrew Simon). Colletti also explained he signed Wilson because he only cost money, not prospects, and there's a familiarity with him from his days as the Giants' closer. "We think it's a very low-risk, high-reward situation," said Colletti. "He wanted to be here. He has a home in L.A. Rivalry and all that aside — we all know what that's all about — he wanted to restart his career and we're going to give him that opportunity here in the near future."
  • Four years and $60MM is the guess as to the asking price of Reds centerfielder Shin-Soo Choo in free agency this winter, tweets the Cincinnati Enquirer's John Fay. Choo placed fifth in MLBTR's most recent 2014 Free Agent Power Rankings.
  • The Pirates have scouted Cuban first baseman Jose Dariel Abreu in three recent international tournaments and will be on hand for his expected September showcase, reports Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "We like him," GM Neal Huntington said. "It will be interesting to see where the bidding goes." That bidding could exceed $60MM.


Phillies’ Agreement With Gonzalez In Jeopardy

Last month, the Phillies and Cuban right-hander Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez reportedly reached an agreement on a six-year, $48MM contract that contained an $11MM option for a seventh season. However, Philadelphia has yet to announce that a deal has been finalized, and MLB.com's Todd Zolecki writes that the deal may not end up going through at all.

The two sides have "hit a snag" in recent weeks, writes Zolecki, which would explain the silence from the Phillies (a previous report had indicated they were simply waiting for Gonzalez to get visa approval before making an announcement). GM Ruben Amaro Jr. would not comment on the situation when asked by Zolecki prior to last night's game against the Cubs.

After the agreement was announced, reports surfaced that some clubs had been wary of problems in Gonzalez's elbow. Zolecki reports that Gonzalez has had bone spurs removed within the past two years but is said to have recovered from that procedure. If the agreement were to fall through, it would drastically change the Phillies' outlook for 2014 and perhaps even 2013, as he was expected to be in the Majors next season and possibly even this year.

The Phillies have appeared to be more active on the international market than in recent years between the Gonzalez agreement and their signing of German outfield prospect Julsan Kamara. They are also said to be the favorites to sign Dominican third baseman Luis Encarnacion this Friday when he turns 16. Baseball America ranked Encarnacion as the No. 4 international free agent in this year's class, while MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez ranked him 12th.


NL East Notes: Phillies, Gonzalez, Braves, Nationals

Marlins hitting coach Tino Martinez resigned today amid allegations of verbal and physical abuse of players, according to Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald. Two sources told Spencer the agent for recently-demoted second baseman Derek Dietrich contacted the team several months ago to report an incident where Martinez erupted in anger unjustly and grabbed a player by his neck and neck chain. The MLBPA was notified of the alleged incident, as well as others involving Martinez, and the union then contacted the Commisioner's office and that office was expected to contact the Marlins on Tuesday, Spencer reports. Martinez, who had never been a Major League coach before this season, was owner Jeffrey Loria’s hand-picked selection to become Marlins' hitting coach. The Red Sox also had interest in hiring Martinez before he took the job with the Marlins. In other news and notes coming from the NL East:

  • The Phillies are still not acknowledging the signing of Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez as sources say the Cuban right-hander is awaiting visa approval, reports Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Gonzalez reportedly agreed to a six-year, $48MM contract with the Phillies, which could be worth as much as $59MM.
  • Gelb also tweeted that Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins indicated he is not willing to waive his no-trade clause, if asked.
  • There is no indication the Phillies are aggressively taking offers for Chase Utley in the event a contract extension cannot be reached, tweets ESPN's Buster Olney.
  • The Braves have not had any conversations with the Royals regarding Ervin Santana, according to Mark Bowman of MLB.com.
  • Nationals GM Mike Rizzo told reporters, including the Washington Times' Amanda Comak, he would like to add some more depth before the Trade Deadline. "If we could tweak or improve certain spots on the bench, I think that would be one place that we would attack," Rizzo said. "We’ve got a lot of trade discussions. We’ve received calls, we’ve made calls.
  • Manager Terry Collins doesn't expect the Mets to make any moves prior to the Trade Deadline, reports Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News. Marlon Byrd is the Met name most mentioned in trade rumors and a team source tells Ackert the asking price is a top 10-15 prospect. 

Reactions To Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez Signing

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."

Phillies To Sign Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez

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.


Braves Seeking Front-Line Starting Pitcher

3:02pm: Clubs that have spoken with the Braves get the sense that they won't trade for a starter, according to ESPN's Jayson Stark (on Twitter). The Braves are adamant in their stance on not trading top prospects and are more focused on the bullpen. Stark adds that the Braves also aren't "roaring down the Bud Norris trail," as he lacks the big game experience that the Braves prefer when acquiring a pitcher.

FRIDAY, 12:15pm: The Braves are more focused on front-line starting pitchers such as Jake Peavy and Ervin Santana than they are on Norris, writes Mark Bowman of MLB.com. Peavy's 118-pitch outing yesterday, which was scouted by the Braves, helped to quell some of the hesitation surrounding his health, Bowman adds. The Braves aren't interested in Yovani Gallardo, according to Bowman, but they may contact the Brewers regarding Kyle Lohse's availability.

THURSDAY, 10:00pm: The Braves are among the teams that are actively pursuing Astros right-hander Bud Norris, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (on Twitter).

Norris, 28, has a 3.93 ERA with 6.4 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9 in 126 1/3 innings for the Astros this season. He carries a significant platoon split, as lefties have rocked him at a .306/.365/.494 clip. Despite his struggles against lefties, Norris has drawn interest from multiple teams, including the Red Sox, Pirates, Phillies, Rangers, Giants and Dodgers throughout the summer. 

2:37pm: In the wake of Tim Hudson's season-ending ankle injury last night, the Braves will consider making a trade to upgrade their rotation, writes David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journa-Constitution. O'Brien was among the reporters who spoke with general manager Frank Wren today, who told the media:

“A lot of thoughts have gone through my mind since last night. It’s created a lot more (trade) discussions, there’s no question.”

It wasn't long ago that the Braves looked to have an enviable surplus of starting pitching with Hudson, Mike Minor, Julio Teheran, Paul Maholm and Kris Medlen in the rotation and a returning Brandon Beachy on the horizon. However, the team has seen Maholm and Medlen struggle tremendously lately, and Maholm is slated to miss his next three starts with a sprained left wrist. The Braves feel that Beachy is ready to return, and rookie Alex Wood presents another option, but he didn't escape the fifth inning today. Wood lasted just three frames in his only other start for the Braves this season.

Wren and his top assistants will convene over the weekend to discuss their options, O'Brien writes. That group will try to determine if there's a starting option on the market who can improve the team significantly without costing too much in terms of young talent. ESPN's Jerry Crasnick tweets that Wren, like most general managers, is waiting to see if the asking prices on available starters drops as the deadline nears. O'Brien adds that the Braves are not in the mix for Cuban right-hander Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez.

Earlier today it was reported that the Braves will be one of the many teams scouting Jake Peavy's start against the Tigers in Chicago. The team also remains in the market for a left-handed reliever to fortify its bullpen after losing Jonny Venters and Eric O'Flaherty to Tommy John surgery.


Stark On Gregerson, Phils, Norris, Santana, Gonzalez

In his latest edition of Rumblings & Grumblings, Jayson Stark of ESPN.com spoke with Skip Schumaker, who wants to see MLB really amp up the penalties for PED use.  "The players are in favor of stricter penalties. No doubt," Schumaker said. "And they're also in favor of voiding contracts. Not that I can speak for everybody. I can't. But let's just say that a few of my good friends are high-profile players, and they're in favor of cleaning up the game."  Here's more from Stark's column..

  • An exec who speaks frequently with the Phillies says they have talked a lot with the Padres about a deal that could send Luke Gregerson and an outfielder to Philadelphia for a package of young players.  However, the Phillies appear to be looking for deals that wouldn't require parting with their most advanced prospects.  Earlier today, we heard that Gregerson is drawing significant interest.
  • Gregerson also appears to be at the top of the list for the Tigers.  However, it's going to take at least one big league-ready young player who projects as an immediate contributor for the Padres, in part because Gregerson is under club control for next season.
  • While the discussion around the Phillies is framed as a black-and-white decision between buying and selling, execs of two clubs say they're mostly trying to position themselves for the future without giving up on 2013.
  • The Braves are more interested in the starting pitcher market than they were before Tim Hudson's injury, but they're no more likely to pay the price for a Jake Peavy, Ervin Santana, Yovani Gallardo or Kyle Lohse.  An official of one team who spoke with the Braves said they'd be open to a modest deal similar to their deal for Paul Maholm last year, but they're "not going to trade Alex Wood for any of the guys on this market."  Earlier today, MLB.com's Mark Bowman offered a different take, reporting that the Braves are looking at front-line hurlers.
  • Three clubs with interest in the Astros' Bud Norris tell Stark that they have a feeling that Houston may just be gauging the hurler's trade value and could be waiting to move him this winter.  Those execs said it reminds them of how the Rays used to gauge interest in pitchers like Matt Garza and James Shields in July so they could focus on those teams' systems before dealing them the following offseason.
  • Clubs that have checked in with the Royals say Santana is only available for a huge payout.  The Royals have openly told the shoppers they've talked to that the only way they'll move Santana is if they "win the deal," and that means they want a second baseman and/or right fielder who can start for them in 2014.  Despite their situation, the Royals are telling everyone their priority is to win as many games as possible this season, not cut payroll.
  • Clubs that are in on Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez seem to think that the Red Sox are the favorite because they like the idea of spending money on a big-league-ready guy more than overpaying in prospects for a strong pitcher on the trade market.  One exec says that he should be in the big leagues by September and be a rotation regular next year.
  • The Pirates might not be as focused on Alex Rios as they've been portrayed.  Rios' contract, which would increase his base salary to $13MM next season if he's traded, doesn't fit into their payroll.  On top of that, other scouts say Bucs scouts have questioned Rios' effort.  Stark says Justin Morneau, who they've inquired on, is a name to file away.  Even though they'd prefer a right-handed bat who could play right field, they could move Garrett Jones back to right if they deal for a first baseman.

Steve Adams contributed to this post.


Red Sox Looking “Pretty Hard” At Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez

The Red Sox are looking "pretty hard" at free agent Cuban righty Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, president and CEO Larry Lucchino said on WEEI's Dennis & Callahan show this morning (Tim Healey has quotes).  "The auctioning can begin," said Lucchino.  Noting that GM Ben Cherington guards the team's prospects "like his first-born child," Lucchino explained, "Reaching into your pocket for your wallet is much easier."  Lucchino confirmed the Sox are searching for rotation and bullpen help.

Gonzalez, 26, is expected to sign soon.  On Monday, MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez said he's down to five teams.  MLB.com's Ken Gurnick reported Tuesday that the Dodgers, who had been heavily linked to Gonzalez, are not pursuing him.  Earlier this week, Ben Badler of Baseball America provided a scouting report on Gonzalez (subscription required and recommended).  Badler noted that "projections vary significantly" on the righty, ranging from a big league ready No. 3 starter on the high end to a long reliever on the low end.