The Dodgers have an agreement in place to sign 25-year-old Cuban right-handed pitcher Pablo Millan Fernandez on a minor league contract for $8 million, according to Ben Badler of Baseball America. This deal seemingly came out of nowhere and is still pending a physical.
Fernandez figures to be a starting pitcher of the command and control variety that will start out in AA or AAA.
In Cuba, the 6-foot-1, 185-pound Fernandez was known more for his touch and feel than his pure stuff, with a fastball that ranged from 86-88 mph at this time last year in Cuba. However, more recently Fernandez has increased his fastball into the low-90s, unusual for a pitcher in his mid-20s, with a curveball, slider and changeup in his arsenal as well. Like many Cuban pitchers, Fernandez intentionally threw from several different arm slots, though since arriving in the Dominican Republic to train he has worked to repeat his release point.
In the Cuban league, he operated primarily as a reliever with only 21 of his 177 appearances being starts and having only one start since 2009. In seven seasons in the league, he held a 3.59 ERA in 414 innings with 244 strikeouts and 127 walks (40 intentional). During his final season in Cuba, he posted a 2.83 ERA and six saves in 27 appearances that spanned 57.1 innings with 36 strikeouts and 19 walks (nine intentional).
Due to his age, Fernandez does not count toward the international bonus pool, and because it’s a minor league deal, the luxury tax doesn’t apply either. As a result, should Fernandez reach the majors, he will be on the typical MLB pay scale as any other rookie would.
I’m not even going to try to pretend I’ve heard of this guy before or assume whether this will end up being good deal or not. But because it doesn’t count against the international bonus pool and because it’s a minor league deal, it does sound like he could be solid rotation depth (which the Dodgers need) if he’s really sitting in the low-90s now with four usable pitches.
Now with video thanks to Roberto Baly!