Top Cuban free agent Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez is drawing interest from a multitude of MLB clubs, and could end up signing for as much as $60 million over five years, reports Danny Knobler of CBS Sports.
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MLB scouts are traveling in droves to Tijuana, Mexico, to watch the 26-year-old right-hander throw. The Rangers, Red Sox, Cubs, and Dodgers are all believed to have serious interest in Gonzalez, but several other teams are likely in the market as well, as roughly 60 scouts showed up at a personal showcase for the right-hander last week.
The Dodgers -- still basking in the glow of Puigmania -- reportedly sent three of their top scouts to watch Gonzalez recently, but were one-upped by the Red Sox, who sent seven scouts and GM Ben Cherington to the above-mentioned showcase.
The 6'3 right-hander boasts a four-pitch arsenal, which includes a mid-90s fastball, a devastating curve, a forkball, and a change-up. Here's a peek at what Gonzalez has to offer, from 2010:
Gonzalez fled Cuba to El Salvador earlier in the year and established residency in Mexico shortly thereafter. He was officially declared a free agent by MLB last week, but he still has to wait for final clearance from the US Treasury Department before he can negotiate with clubs.
He has not played against top-level competition in a while -- he was suspended in Cuba for much of the last two years for a failed defection attempt -- but that hasn't seemed to deter clubs from being very interested. The right-hander has thrown two bullpen sessions a week in Tijuana over the last two months, so conditioning is not likely an issue.
Much of the reason that teams are so high on the Gonzalez is because of his top-shelf stuff, but it also has to do with his special free-agent status. Because Gonzalez is over the age of 23 and played at least three seasons in Cuba's top league, he will not count against the international spending pool of whichever team ends up signing him. This means that clubs are free to bid on him to their heart's content, up to $60 million and beyond, without any fear of affecting their ability to sign other international free agents.