For the first time in franchise history, the Phillies have broken the bank for an international free agent. Jon Heyman and Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com have confirmed Philadelphia has signed Cuban right-hander Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez to a six-year contract worth more than $50 million. The deal could approach $60 million, which would be a record for an international player. Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports first reported the deal.
Gonzalez, 26, was also being pursued by the Dodgers, Angels, Red Sox and others according to Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com. Passan says Boston finished second in the bidding. Because of his age, Gonzalez does not count against the team's annual international spending pool.
"He's a real talent," said one scout to Scott Miller of CBSSports.com in June. "He had some bone spurs, and he's still building up, but his stuff is top shelf. He threw it over the plate, and he can make it move. He's really good.
"He's like a classic Cuban guy in that he toys with all [his pitches]. He throws a curve that's bigger, he makes it go wide, he throws it straight down ... it's like 10 different pitches. And he throws them all over the plate."
Gonzalez is said to throw in the 94-95 mph range with his fastball while touching 96. He held several workouts and showcases in Mexico before signing.
Before defecting in February, Gonzalez pitched for Cuba in the 2009 and 2011 World Cup as well as the 2011 Pan-Am Games. He was suspended for two years after an unsuccesful defection attempt back in January 2012.
Gonzalez is the latest Cuban player to land a huge contract from an MLB team, joining Aroldis Chapman ($30.25 million), Yoenis Cespedes ($36 million) and Yasiel Puig ($42 million). The Phillies had never signed an international player to a contract worth more than $2 million before Gonzalez.
The Fightin's are likely to send Gonzalez to the minor leagues for some tune-up starts before summoning to him to the big leagues, which might not happen until next year. At that price, he'll be expected to be an above-average starter right away.