There hasn’t been much written around here about free agent pitcher Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez just yet, because there isn’t a whole lot out there to be known, but apparently the Jays are now being listed among the clubs that are serious suitors for the pitcher.
The internet at large has gathered this much: Gonzalez is Cuban, 26 years old, a free agent not bound by MLB’s international amateur spending limits, and apparently a hell of a pitcher.
Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com suggests he could sign next week– he isn’t permitted to until Monday– and describes him thusly:
The hard-throwing right-hander has a fastball in the mid-90s, a changeup, fork and a curveball. He made a splash on the international scene at the 2010 University Baseball Championships in Tokyo, and also shined at the Baseball World Cup in ’09 and ’11. He was suspended from Cuba’s national team for most of the past two seasons for trying to leave the island.
He also explains that “the Cubs, Dodgers, Rangers and Red Sox are among the teams that have expressed serious interest in signing the 26-year-old. The Phillies, Blue Jays and Braves are also in the hunt to acquire him.”
What little I did write about him here came back at the end of last month, when Danny Knobler– the Knobler!– of CBS Sports noted that scouts were headed to Tijuana to watch him pitch, and that Gonzalez could command as much as $60-million.
The report from MLB.com is technically the first time that the Jays have been linked to the pitcher as serious suitors, but at the time of the post above I noted that a reader had spotted Alex Anthopoulos boarding a plan for San Diego, which Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun later confirmed, via Twitter, was indeed a trip to see Gonzalez pitch.
MLBTR has been following the saga, and suggested when linking Sanchez’s piece that the Jays, Phillies and Braves are “a trio of new teams in the mix for Gonzalez.” It’s been strongly believed from the get-go that the Dodgers and all their money are the favourites to land the pitcher– whose addition Sanchez says scouts believe “would be similar to acquiring a top pitcher before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline”– but hey… you never know, right?
They Jays did pony up to land Adeiny Hechavarria early in AA’s tenure, and Anthopoulos has expressed regret that he didn’t bid high enough on another Cuban defector, Aroldis Chapman, who turned out to be… y’know… pretty ridiculously good. Maybe he’ll be determined not to let this one get away. With all the money backing the Dodgers, though– not to mention the fact that they have a better shot at playing meaningful baseball this year, and that the Jays already have too many pitchers for too few spots when Morrow and Happ shortly (presumably) return to health– it’s hard to see anyone beating them to the punch. If the Jays do, though… that certainly can’t hurt.
Y’know, unless this untested guy few people had heard of before last month turns out to be… I don’t know… terrible. But what are the odds of that? Never seen a baseball transaction work out poorly around here, no sir! Just go spend a shit-tonne of money on him, Alex– the fans will be forgiving if it blows up in your face!
Here’s a YouTube clip of Gonzalez pitching at Tijuana in late June, which is impressive– if not for his pitching, at least for the fact that it’s a leap forward for scouting videos, what with the awesome music after (mostly) every pitch and all.