The Cincinnati Reds signed Cuban right-hander Raciel Iglesias to a seven-year deal, reportedly worth $27 million, with a signing bonus between $5 million and $6 million. Iglesias defected last fall, and the 24-year-old was not subject to the international spending cap.
I love the reactions when teams sign international free agents. One second, you've never heard of a player, and the next second, that player has a multi-year deal for many millions. You're supposed to have opinions on that player. Everyone else does. Take Yasiel Puig, for instance.
Huge disparity of opinion around the game on LAD's $42m signing of Yasiel Puig. One team told me they pegged him as a $500,000 player.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) June 29, 2012
Atta way, team.
Aroldis Chapman was more of a known quantity, but his contract was still a little surprising, considering how raw he was supposed to be. It's the Chapman signing that's making people think about this one. When the Reds sign Cuban relievers to multi-year deals, it always works out (sample of one).
And I, for one, can't wait to see Iglesias pitch. Here are the two main reasons I'm fascinated.
1. His size
According to reports, Iglesias is listed at 5-foot-11 and 165 pounds.
2. His fastball
This isn't to suggest the Reds don't know what they're doing. Walt Jocketty didn't just fall off the turnip truck. And, indeed, Ben Badler notes that Iglesias was up to the mid-90s earlier last year, and I certainly wasn't at the private workouts. Iglesias impressed someone with a baseball brain.
The upside is a reliever for about $4.5 million per year on a seven-year deal ... but that's kind of a lot to guarantee any reliever, not in terms of total contract value, but in terms of commitment. That's a long time to have a $4.5 million guarantee in the bullpen, especially for a mid-market team like the Reds. No one's getting the Papelbon these days, and it isn't too hard to find a closer on the free-agent market who would sign for two years. Committing to one bullpen arm over a seven-year stretch means that the Reds think this is one heck of an arm.
I would like to see this arm.
You had ideas what Joe Smith or Joaquin Benoit were worth this offseason, but there's a decent chance this is the first you've heard about Iglesias. For a team to commit to seven years and a not-insignificant amount of money to an undersized, right-handed reliever, they must have been blown away. Hopefully he's dominating in the majors by September, so we can see what all the fuss was about.