Report: Dodgers to sign Cuban infielder Jose Miguel Fernandez to MiLB deal

(Via)

It’s Sunday. There isn’t usually a ton of Dodger news on a Sunday in the offseason. But something popped up on the Twitter machine today.

The Dodgers are reportedly set to sign Cuban infielder Jose Miguel Fernandez to a minor-league deal. Fernandez, 28, defected more than two years ago and has been eligible to sign since April.

Ben Badler of Baseball America has spilled the most internet ink on Fernandez over the last couple seasons. Here’s what he wrote about him in April 2015.

“Fernandez rarely offers at a pitch outside the strike zone, taking a patient approach and laying off pitches on the corners. When Fernandez does swing, he has a short, flat lefty stroke with good bat control. He sets up with his hands low but he’s able to catch up to good inside fastballs and keep his hands back to adjust to breaking balls. He has good hand-eye coordination and plate coverage, hitting well against lefties and righties. There is some funkiness to Fernandez’s swing, as his back foot often slides out from under him, only re-gaining his balance with his back foot on the other side of home plate. Fernandez hits a lot of line drives but he’s also a pull-oriented hitter who rolls over a lot of ground balls to the right side. His power is below-average, with a chance for 8-12 home runs per year over a full big league season.”

And here’s some video of Fernandez.

Fernandez seems to have a more open stance than in the 2013 World Baseball Classic. He doesn’t appear to use his lower-half much, hence the lack of power. Perhaps the added mass to his lower-half could help increase his pop a bit. But even with that, Fernandez’s swing still doesn’t look good. It has worked for him in the past, but it might need to be smoothed out in the majors.

He does seem to have gotten a bit bigger than he was back in Cuba, as Eric Stephen pointed out on Twitter.

“Among the concerns with Fernandez were his thickening lower half and declining range at second base, but he has lost significant weight since leaving Cuba, another reason why scouts are interested to get an updated look at him.”

I mean, if Willie Calhoun can hack it at second base, I’m sure Fernandez will be OK.

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This probably won’t have a big impact on the Brian Dozier trade negotiations. Fernandez isn’t the impact-type player Dozier would be, but Fernandez has been — by most accounts — MLB-ready for awhile. He played winter ball for Aguilas Cibaenas and hit .286/.369/.286 in 56 at-bats, walking eight times and striking out five. And, as you can deduce from his slugging percentage, he did not have an extra base hit. Because he’s a baseball savant, Stephen also deciphered Fernandez’s defensive playing time.

It doesn’t necessarily mean he has moved to third base, but if he can handle second- and third base defensively, that increases his utility, and we all know how much the Dodgers’ front office value utility. His bat plays much better at second base, though.

Ultimately, this probably is nothing more than a depth signing since the shine is off his star a bit. But to get a guy with this skill set on a minor-league deal, there is literally nothing to complain about.

About Dustin Nosler

Dustin Nosler

Dustin Nosler began writing about the Dodgers in July 2009 at his blog, Feelin’ Kinda Blue. He co-hosts a weekly podcast with Jared Massey called Dugout Blues. He is a contributor/editor at The Hardball Times. He graduated from California State University, Sacramento, with his bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in digital media. While at CSUS, he worked for the student-run newspaper The State Hornet for three years, culminating with a 1-year term as editor-in-chief. He resides in Stockton, Calif., and has yet to be shot.