The San Diego Padres have completed their deal with Cuban right-hander Odrisamer Despaigne, as first reported by Corey Brock of MLB.com. The deal, which was delayed by a physical and visa approval after being reported as close in early April, is a minor league deal that will guarantee Despaigne a $1 million bonus.
According to a source close to Despaigne, the 27-year old will head to extended spring training in Peoria before joining the Padres' Double-A affiliate in San Antonio. He is expected to join the major league club by the end of the season once he builds up arm strength in the minor leagues.
San Diego's rotation has posted a 3.96 ERA, good enough for 17th in the majors through just over a month of play. The Padres have been hurt by the losses of Cory Luebke and Josh Johnson, who both need Tommy John surgery, so the low-risk addition of Despaigne provides depth.
Despaigne, who also drew some interest from the Diamondbacks and Twins since becoming available to MLB teams, is a bit of an unknown commodity due to his low-profile status as a Cuban prospect. Padres' GM Josh Byrnes told Brock that Despaigne was an "old generation" type of Cuban pitcher, and that the Padres were impressed with his varied use of many pitches and arm angles.
Back when the deal was reported as close on April 3, our Tyler Drenon took a bit of a deeper look at Despaigne's track record in Cuba:
Despaigne, 26, been a "workhorse" in Cuba -- he has started at least 20 games a year since becoming a starter in 2010 (h/t to ObstructedView.net).
From 2010 to 2013 in Cuba's Serie Nacional, he threw 647⅓ innings for Industriales, posting a 3.38 ERA and 1.35 WHIP. His control appears to be an issue -- he walked nearly four batters per nine innings over that span. He might not take the league by storm the way some of his fellow defectors have, but the Padres wouldn't bother with their pursuit if they didn't think he could help the organization.