The Dodgers have agreed to a minor league contract with Cuban right-handed pitcher Pablo Millan Fernandez with a bonus of $8 million, per Ben Badler of Baseball America.
The deal has not been officially announced by the club, and is still pending a physical exam. Fernandez still needs a work visa to enter the United States, per Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com.
The 25-year-old has been a reliever for the bulk of his time in La Serie Nacional in Cuba, playing for Holguin in 6½ of his seven seasons, but per Badler the Dodgers' plan for Fernandez is to use him as a starter, a move that makes sense given his four-pitch mix. Per Badler:
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.
Fernandez was 8-8 with a 2.83 ERA in 27 games for Holguin in the 2013-2014 season, with 36 strikeouts and 19 walks in 57⅓ innings, though nine of his walks were intentional. In his seven years in Cuba, Fernandez's walk rate was only 7.3 percent, but if we remove intentional walks it was just 4.0 percent.
It is unknown where Fernandez might start with the Dodgers, though Badler speculates it would be with one of their "upper minors affiliates."
Because Fernandez is 23 or older and has five or more years of professional experience, his signing bonus is not subject to international bonus pools, meaning the Dodgers have not yet exceeded their limit for the 2014-2015 signing period. In addition, because this is a minor league contract his bonus won't count toward the luxury tax, though whatever actual salaries Fernandez might earn while on the 40-man roster would count.
"It's a great privilege to sign with such a great team like the Dodgers," Fernandez told MLB.com on Monday. "I've always liked the Dodgers, even back when I never even imagined playing at that level. I'm ready to do what they want me to do. I know there are still things to learn."
Fernandez was on the preliminary roster for Cuba in the 2013 World Baseball Classic — along with Erisbel Arruebarrena, Rusney Castillo, Yasmany Tomas and Odrisamer Despaigne, among others — though he did not pitch.