Last night, Baseball America’s Ben Badler reported that the Dodgers had agreed to terms with 25-year-old Cuban pitcher Pablo Millan Fernandez on a minor-league contract with an $8MM bonus. The Dodgers will convert Fernandez from relief to starting. The deal came as somewhat of a surprise, given that Fernandez wasn’t a big international name and his stuff reportedly isn’t overwhelming. As Badler notes (via Twitter), “If he can get $8MM, Vladimir Gutierrez must be doing back flips right now.” Here are more notes on Fernandez.
- Dodgers infielder Alex Guerrero played with Fernandez in Cuba and remembers him well, J.P. Hoornstra of the Los Angeles News Group writes. “Good control, command, great kid, good attitude, that’s all I can say,” says Guerrero. “Slider, fastball — the best thing is that he locates them good.”
- Fernandez defected from Cuba last October, Hoornstra writes. The Dodgers only recently became interested. The team recently underwent changes in their front office, of course, and Badler noted in his original report that Fernandez’s velocity increased recently, so those might be two potential reasons. There’s also the possibility, as Hoornstra notes, that the Dodgers previously hadn’t viewed Fernandez as a potential defector.
- Not all teams were as impressed with Fernandez as the Dodgers apparently were. Kiley McDaniel of FanGraphs tweets that one international scouting director says his team had little interest in Fernandez, believing his stuff was unimpressive and that his upside was that of a back-end starter.
- Another scout told McDaniel (again via Twitter) that Fernandez had a good chance of becoming an Odrisamer Despaigne-type pitcher. That view perhaps isn’t entirely inconsistent with that of the international scouting director’s, but it’s framed much more positively — perhaps Fernandez won’t be an ace, but if he can be a reliable contributor in the Dodgers’ rotation, that would, surely, be a good use of $8MM.