The Dodgers have agreed to terms with Cuban righty Pablo Millan Fernandez on a minor-league deal with an $8MM bonus, Baseball America’s Ben Badler reports. Fernandez still needs to take a physical for the deal to be complete. Fernandez had established residence in Haiti and was training with Julian Camillo, who scouted Hanley Ramirez when Ramirez was an amateur.
Badler writes that Fernandez previously had thrown in the 86-88 MPH range, but recently increased his velocity and now throws in the low 90s, a somewhat surprising development for a 25-year-old. He also throws a curve, slider and changeup. Badler notes, however, that Fernandez had not generated much excitement among scouts. Fernandez mostly pitched as a reliever in Cuba, posting a 3.59 ERA with 5.3 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 in parts of seven seasons there. The Dodgers will develop him as a starter, likely having him begin his U.S. career in the high minors.
Due to Fernandez’s age and experience in Serie Nacional, the signing will not count against the Dodgers’ international bonus pool. They will, however, have to pay 40% luxury tax on his bonus, which does not include any salary he might make in the big leagues.
The deal is the latest in a string of signings of Cuban players for the Dodgers, whose previous management signed outfielder Yasiel Puig to a $42MM deal that now looks like a bargain. They also infielders Alex Guerrero and Erisbel Arruebarrena to deals that have not worked out so far (although it might be somewhat premature to dismiss the Guerrero signing). More recently, the Dodgers have been connected with infielder Hector Olivera, who has yet to sign.