Odrisamer Despaigne Rumors
6:04pm: The deal is a minor league contract that does not promise Despaigne "huge money," reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post (via Twitter). Despaigne must still secure a visa and pass a physical.
11:12am: The Padres are nearing a deal with Cuban right-hander Odrisamer Despaigne, MLBTR's Tim Dierkes reports (via Twitter).
Dierkes recently spoke with a high-level scout to get a report on Despaigne, learning that he has four average offerings that he can deliver from a number of different arm slots, leading the scout to point out his ability to deceive hitters. That same scout also told Dierkes that Despaigne "knows how to pitch," suggesting a good feel for the game. Despaigne recently changed agencies, switching from Jaime Torres to Charisse Dash of DPX Sports.
Despaigne, who turns 27 in April, posted a 3.65 career ERA in eight seasons in Cuba's Serie Nacional and was much better in his final season, posting an ERA of just 2.58. It's unclear exactly what role he would fill with the Padres in the long-term, but the scouting report received by Dierkes seemed to suggest that Despaigne is on a big-league track, be it as a back-end starter or a middle reliever. Despaigne was also connected to the Diamondbacks and Twins at various points this offseason.
Cuban free agent Odrisamer Despaigne has changed agents from Jaime Torres to Charisse Dash of DPX Sports, MLBTR's Tim Dierkes tweets. Dierkes also recently provided a scouting report on Despaigne. It's unclear where the righty will fit on a big-league pitching staff, but he figures to help a big-league team in some capacity. Despaigne, who turns 27 in April, had a 3.70 ERA in 293 games in Serie Nacional in Cuba.
Cuban righty Odrisamer Despaigne joined infielder Aledmys Diaz in a 90-minute February 13th showcase in front of more than 50 scouts at the Peoria Sports Complex in Arizona, according to MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez. At the time, agent Jaime Torres told Sanchez, "We'll field offers shortly on Despaigne."
Diaz, an infielder, was expected to sign before Despaigne. He inked a four-year, $8MM deal with the Cardinals on March 9th. Despaigne remains unsigned, and hasn't shown up on the pages of MLBTR since the showcase.
I talked to a high-ranking international scouting official to get a scouting report on Despaigne, to perhaps shed some light on why he hasn't signed. The official has seen Despaigne three or four times in person and has seen him dating back to 2010.
The picture painted by the official was not particularly exciting. "I would say his stuff is average across the board. He's got feel and he's got deception, and he knows how to pitch. The biggest thing going for him is his ability to mix and match and change slots and change arm angles. He probably throws four different pitches from different slots and different angles. He never gives guys the same look, and he throws a lot of strikes. But he doesn't have anything plus." The official considers Despaigne's pitches to be fringe-average or slightly above-average, depending on the day.
The official went on to explain where Despaigne might fit in with a Major League team. "I see him as a middle inning type of guy. He's going to have to really throw a ton of strikes to have success. He's really no different than a lot of six-year free agents and non-roster invitees that are out there right now. I think he fits in well to a bullpen probably as a middle inning reliever and potentially a long guy or a No. 5 starter." I asked how Despaigne compares to the Phillies' Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, a Cuban pitcher who signed a three-year, $12MM deal in August. That deal was drastically reduced due to injury concerns, which have carried into spring training. The official has always projected Gonzalez as a reliever as well, but feels the Phillies pitcher has "much bigger stuff" than Despaigne.
Despaigne is no different than a lot of pitchers currently on the roster bubble in spring training, opined the official, which could explain why he remains unsigned. An eight-figure contract for Despaigne appears unlikely, but it does seem that he'll pitch in the big leagues in some capacity.
Cuban shortstop Aledmys Diaz and Cuban right-hander Odrisamer Despaigne held a showcase at the Padres' Spring Training complex today, MLB.com's Corey Brock tweeted earlier. Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com reported (via Twitter) that more than 20 teams had scouts on-hand to see the pair. Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports reports that the Yankees, Cardinals, Blue Jays, Mariners, Padres and Giants were all there to scout Diaz (Twitter links). According to the San Diego Union-Tribune (on Twitter), Diaz could command as much as $20-30MM as a free agent. However, he is ineligible to sign until next week (Feb. 19) at the earliest. Here's more on the international market...
- Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish tweets that Diaz could look to choose a club as soon as Friday or Saturday of next week.
- Sanchez adds that Diaz and Despaigne have also schedule four more showcases in Florida, beginning this weekend, in order to allow clubs whose Spring Training facilities are in that state easier scouting access. Despaigne's next showcase will come in Port Charlotte, Fla. on Saturday, according to Sanchez (Twitter links). The Rays' Spring Training complex is in Port Charlotte, for what it's worth.
- The Dodgers continued their aggressive approach on the international front today, signing 18-year-old Panamanian outfielder Carlos Mosquera, according to Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times (on Twitter).
- Cuba sent a team to the Caribbean Series in Venezuela for the first time since 1960, writes Baseball America's Ben Badler (subscription required and recommended). As such, Major League scouts flocked to the series in order to get a first-hand look at some of the talent. Badler says that most scouts left underwhelmed, but four players -- outfielder Alfredo Despaigne, second baseman Jose Fernandez, third baseman Yulieski Gourriel and right-hander Norge Ruiz -- each jumped out. Badler provides scouting reports for each, with the write-ups on Ruiz and Despaigne being lengthier than those on Fernandez and Gourriel. Previously, Badler has written that Ruiz, 19, is establishing himself as a rising star.
The White Sox have received positive reviews for their accumulation of young talent over the last year. But with that youth movement comes a lot of roster questions, writes MLB.com's Scott Merkin, who provides an excellent early look at a spring that should be worthy of close attention. Here are some more scattered notes from the day:
- For the Angels, another new starting pitching acquisition is highly unlikely at this point, reports MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez. "None of the deals made sense for us, whether trying to access veteran starters through trade or free agency," said Dipoto. "And we didn't want to do anything that didn't make sense for us." Dipoto says that he is comfortable with his team's starting depth and likes its upside.
- The Twins will be among the team's attending a showcase on Thursday featuring Cuban infielder Aledmys Diaz and righty Odrisamer Despaigne, tweets Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN. The pair is expected to sign in short order, says Wolfson. Diaz, in particular, could be an interesting participant in the marketplace.
- Dominican July 2 prospect Yirver Gilbert Lara is reportedly said by some scouts to have agreed to a $3.2MM signing bonus with the Brewers. Lara's trainer, Jaime Ramos, told MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez that "there is nothing concrete and there are still a lot of teams interested in him," including the Brewers, Royals, Yankees, and Twins. Whether or not Lara lands in Milwaukee, explain Sanchez and his MLB.com colleague Adam McCalvy, the Brewers appear set to embark on greatly increased levels of international spending and player development efforts. (The team's largest international bonus awards to date are just $800K.)
- Pitcher Carl Pavano is progressing in rehab and plans to throw off of a mound in a week or so, tweets Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com. The 38-year-old, who did not pitch professionally last year, hopes to put on a showcase in the near future.
The Rays and Athletics have done the most this offseason to solidify themselves as top teams, New York Daily News' Bill Madden writes. The Rays addressed all their major needs by re-signing James Loney and adding Grant Balfour and Ryan Hanigan. The Athletics replaced Balfour with Jim Johnson and Bartolo Colon with Scott Kazmir, and they further improved their bullpen with the additions of Luke Gregerson and Eric O'Flaherty. The Yankees also added plenty of talent, Madden notes, but they still have serious issues in their infield. Here are more notes from around baseball.
- The Padres, Braves and Mets are among the teams interested in Cuban catcher Yenier Bello, MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez tweets. As MLBTR's Steve Adams recently noted, it's unclear what it might take to sign Bello, but he is not as highly-regarded a prospect as players like Jose Dariel Abreu and Yasiel Puig. Sanchez had previously connected Bello to the Dodgers, Cubs and Blue Jays.
- The Diamondbacks have interest in Cuban pitchers Odrisamer Despaigne and Raciel Iglesias, Sanchez tweets. Despaigne was recently cleared to sign with an MLB team.
- Nationals GM Mike Rizzo says he does not expect to give extensions to arbitration-eligible pitchers Doug Fister and Tyler Clippard, MLB.com's Bill Ladson tweets.
- The Nats were briefly connected to free-agent closer Grant Balfour before Balfour signed by the Rays, and they probably would have traded Drew Storen if they'd managed to sign Balfour. But Storen isn't bothered by that idea, Ladson writes. "You don’t take it personally, it part of it. It’s flattering that other teams want you, too," says Storen. "You look at it from all angles. [The Nationals] are a great team. Obviously, I don’t want to go anywhere. It’s just part of the business. Nothing new."
Cuban righty Odrisamer Despaigne can now sign with a MLB club after being cleared by the United States Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez reports (via Twitter). Despaigne is represented by agent Jaime Torres, who also represented players like Jose Contreras, Alexei Ramirez, and Yasiel Puig as they transitioned from Cuban baseball to the big leagues.
Despaigne, a righty, turns 27 in early April. Several clubs were noted as having watched Despaigne throw as of late October, but the list has no doubt grown since. As Sanchez notes, Despaigne has participated in two recent showcases in Mexico. The righty threw eight innings over two starts in the Mexican Pacific League in late December, allowing three earned runs and registering two strikeouts against two walks. Steve Sypa of Amazin' Avenue has a nice profile on Despaigne.
Despaigne could hold another showcase before choosing a team, Sanchez says. Several teams that had been interested in Masahiro Tanaka also showed interest in Despaigne, Sanchez adds in another tweet. Despaigne joins fellow Cuban Yenier Bello -- who was also just cleared -- on the list of 2014 free agents.
The Twins announced yesterday that All-Star closer Glen Perkins underwent arthroscopic surgery to repair the medial meniscus in his right knee. Perkins, who saved 36 games for the Twins with a 2.30 ERA, 11.1 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9, is expected to be ready for Spring Training. Here's more out of the Twin Cities...
- Joe Mauer is symptom-free after missing the final 39 games of the regular season with a concussion, GM Terry Ryan told Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. There's been chatter of moving Mauer to first base to preserve his health in the Minnesota media, but both Ryan and Mauer himself have said that Mauer will catch in 2014.
- Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN writes that the Twins were in on Dalier Hinojosa prior to his $4.25MM agreement with the Red Sox over the weekend. Though Hinojosa has pitched as both a starter and a reliever, the Twins viewed the Cuban righty as a starter.
- Wolfson adds that the Twins will watch Cuban right-hander Odrisamer Despaigne and Cuban shortstop Aledmys Diaz in Mexico in the coming weeks. Despaigne's agent said yesterday he expects to negotiate a contract with a Major League team while in Mexico.
It's been a busy week for Cuban defectors, with Jose Dariel Abreu signing a record six-year, $68MM contract with the White Sox last week and Alexander Guerrero agreeing to a deal with the Dodgers for $28MM over four years earlier today.
Jorge Ebro of El Nuevo Herald writes that another Cuban defector, right-hander Odrisamer Despaigne, has worked out for teams in Spain but plans to travel to Mexico to put on a bigger showcase for MLB clubs (Spanish link). According to Ebro, the Phillies, Yankees, Giants, Mariners and Mets have all seen Despaigne throw in Barcelona, but the showcase in Mexico "will have a more official character."
"Everything's ready and the paperwork arrived quickly for Odrisamer. Since word got out about his escape, teams from the Majors began to get interested in the young man, and this interest has continued growing. In Mexico he'll try out in front of the scouts, and we'll negotiate the contract there."
Despaigne, who pitched this season at 26 years of age, is a veteran of eight seasons in Cuba's Serie Nacional. He owns a lifetime 51-39 record with a 3.65 ERA but was much better in his final season, posting an ERA of just 2.58. According to a recent report from Diario De Cuba, Despaigne has yet to be cleared by the United States Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).
Thanks to MLBTR's Nick Collias for providing the translation for this post.
In what might be the most eclectic collection of names to ever headline a division notes post, here's the latest from the AL Central...
- Despite the Tigers' late-game problems this season, Dave Dombrowski has no regrets over not acquiring a proven closer last winter, the general manager tells MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince. "We didn't feel there was a lock-down, shut-down option in the wintertime that fit in with what we were trying to do, role-wise and financially," Dombrowski said. "Other people may think differently, but there weren't a lot of guys out there, and we felt we had options internally. Now, it may have taken some time, but we still have a chance to do that."
- Joaquin Benoit has recently taken over the closer's role in Detroit and pitched well, which could erase any plans the Tigers had to acquire a stopper at the deadline. "Where are you going to go out and get a guy with better stuff than Benoit?" Dombrowski said.
- Marten Gasparini, the 16-year-old Italian prospect who signed a $1.3MM contract with the Royals, spoke to Fangraphs' David Laurila about his transition to North America.
- The Twins haven't asked agent Jaime Torres about the location of Cuban right-hander Odrisamer Despaigne's showcase in Barcelona tomorrow, 1500ESPN.com's Darren Wolfson reports (Twitter link). Wolfson notes in a follow-up tweet that this just means the Twins haven't informed Torres, not that they won't attend altogether, and Wolfson says the Twins "have a book" on Despaigne.
- Byron Buxton holds the top spot on Baseball America's midseason ranking of the top 50 prospects in the sport. The Twins outfielder "is even better than expected with power, speed, defense and an extremely advanced hitting approach," states BA's staff report. Buxton was ranked as the No. 10 prospect in Baseball America's preseason rankings but has risen to No. 1 after hitting .344/.424/.548 with nine homers and 33 steals in 366 PA at the low and high-A levels this season.
- In AL Central news from earlier today, MLBTR's Tim Dierkes reported that Twins right-hander P.J. Walters had cleared outright assignment waivers.