So, as you'll now recall, the Phillies won the bidding on hotly contested Cuban import right handed pitcher Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez. Gonzalez, who has pitched in Cuba from 2007-2011, and who was a member of the Cuban National Team from 2009-2011, was a fairly lights-out pitcher over the four years. According to baseball reference, MAG pitched to a 2.86 ERA in the 2008-2009 season, a 2.98 ERA in 2009-2010, and a 3.19 ERA in 2010-2011. He didn't pitch last year, but you have to admit: those are some appealing numbers.
Gonzalez officially defected in 2013, and as we know, he agreed to terms with the Phillies about a month ago. This was received as a really good sign of the front office's recognition of a changing marketplace, that they knew how to leverage the rules of international talent acquisition to get themselves a 26 year old pitcher in his prime. Still, the contract was a doozy -- 6 years, 48 million dollars. And the risk was about MAG's ceiling versus his floor. To give you an idea of the range of options that scouts saw in Gonzalez's future, the eminent Ben Badler says this:
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p>Scouts highest on Miguel Gonzalez saw a No. 3 starter. Others thought he might be a middle reliever: <a href="http://t.co/qWEN0STt6U">http://t.co/qWEN0STt6U</a></p>— Ben Badler (@BenBadler) <a href="https://twitter.com/BenBadler/statuses/373540151172935680">August 30, 2013</a></blockquote>
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The other risk was that Gonzalez had some health concerns. It may or may not have been connected to the removal of bone chips from his elbow in 2010: Jim Salisbury isn't clear on that. Still, this health issue held up the contract announcement for over a month, and, apparently, got the Phillies a pretty deep discount. What was a 6 year/48 million dollar contract with escalators included has become a 3 year/12 million dollar contract with an option year in 2017.
This is, it should go without saying, really good news. Even if MAG ends up toward the lower end of the spectrum -- a high leverage reliever or a number five starter, say -- 4 million a year is not a crippling cost. And if he's a number 2 or 3 starter? That, as they say, is money in the bank. So celebrate it in a season without much to celebrate -- we got our guy. Supply your own MAG pun to celebrate!