Great. Now the Phillies are never going to sign another Cuban dude.
Everyone knew when Ruben Amaro and the Phils agreed to sign Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez to a three-year, $15 million contract last August that it was a risk. After all, the team had initially agreed to a much larger deal with the 27-year-old right hander, a reported six-year, $48 million contract, but that was scuttled thanks to concerns about Gonzalez' health.
As it turns out, those worries were well-founded.
There are more injury issues for Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, the $12 million Cuban pitcher: http://t.co/idsTJLR1pM— Matt Gelb (@magelb) May 27, 2014
That's right, a dead arm. That doesn't sound like something you want your $15 million pitcher, who uses his arm with some frequency, to have.
From Gelb's piece:
Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, the Phillies' $12 million acquisition from Cuba, complained of a "dead arm" just three starts into his official rehab assignment at single-A Clearwater. That prompted the Phillies to fly him to Philadelphia for an examination.
The righthander, on the disabled list with shoulder soreness, will be seen by Phillies head physician Michael Ciccotti. Gonzalez, 27, allowed seven runs in 9 1/3 innings for Clearwater with nine walks and three strikeouts.
It was widely assumed the Phillies weren't going to get anything out of MAG this year, but the hope was that some time in the minors in 2014 would at least get him ready to either compete for a spot in the Phils' rotation next year or in the bullpen.
Right now, I'm highly skeptical the guy is ever going to throw a pitch for the Phillies.
When the Phils first announced the deal, I was pretty psyched, as I wrote for another blog, That Ball's Outta Here, last August.
Overall, even though there are injury risks and there is no guarantee Gonzalez’ success in Cuba will translate to the Majors, his signing is welcome news and a sign that the Phillies may showing some progressive tendencies.
And frankly, I still believe that. The Phillies have always been a risk-averse organization, and signing MAG was a huge step out of their comfort zone. The Phils do not typically get involved in big money deals for foreign pitchers, as evidenced by their staying out of the Masahiro Tanaka bidding.
But aside from the fact there's a good chance the Phillies may have just flushed $15 million down the toilet, the greater concern is what effect this will have on the psyche of the front office.
Will this make Ruben Amaro and his team more reluctant to go big-fish hunting in international waters? Even if MAG flames out, Amaro and the Phils certainly realize the limitations of building a team through MLB free agency. And the team has also had trouble developing their own young talent lately, so the international pool is still a promising area in which to bring more talent.
And that is not to say the Phils have been quiet in signing international players. In fact, the Phillies have a heavy presence in Latin America and routinely sign players from that area, with a good deal of success. But MAG was the first "big fish" they went after. They have not attempted to sign any of the well known Asian pitchers, like Tanaka, Hiroki Kuroda or Yu Darvish, and the Phils have traditionally refrained from signing big-name Cuban defectors, like Yasiel Puig, Yoenis Cespedes, and Jorge Soler.
Hopefully, Gonzalez' "dead arm" is nothing serious and he will begin throwing again soon. Hopefully, he'll get some work in this summer, play Winter Ball somewhere, and come into spring training ready to compete for a spot in the rotation or bullpen.
But if that doesn't happen, hopefully the Phils will continue to be more aggressive in going after international stars.
No matter what happens, signing Gonzalez was a good and smart move. Let's hope they try it again, and get a bit luckier next time.