LOS ANGELES -- It seems a bit unfair that Pablo Fernandez had to share his signing day with fellow Cuban defector Hector Olivera. But the $8 million investment made by the Dodgers in Fernandez is significant in its own right, and could net the team an extra starting pitcher, perhaps as soon as this season.
The 25-year-old Fernandez was officially signed to a minor league contract on Tuesday, and because of his age (23 or older) and professional experience (seven years in La Serie Nacional in Cuba; the requirement is five) his $8 million signing bonus does not count against the Dodgers' international bonus restrictions.
Fernandez was 32-30 with 40 saves in his seven seasons in Cuba, and 156 of his 177 games were in relief. Of his 21 starts, only one was made since the 2008-2009 season with Holguin.
But the Dodgers plan to stretch out Fernandez as a starting pitcher.
"He has a five-pitch mix. He has a really good feel for pitching, and has shown really good command throughout his career," said Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said on Tuesday. "He's got the 'El Duque' Orlando Hernandez delivery, which a lot of Cuban pitchers seem to have. He idolizes him and wants to pitch like him, which wouldn't be a bad outcome."
Fernandez, who reportedly agreed to a deal with the Dodgers two months ago, has been working out and pitching in a camp set up by his agent. Fernandez will report to Camelback Ranch to begin his professional career.
"We're going to get him to Arizona as well and start the process of stretching him out," Friedman said. "The upside scenario is that he's a starter for us at some point this year."
Prior to signing, Fernandez was pitching in a camp set up by his agent.