Los Angeles has been active this offseason, and the Dodgers are now getting involved on the international front. According to Ben Badler of Baseball America, the Dodgers signed Cuban pitcher Pablo Millan Fernandez to a minor league contract that includes an $8 million signing bonus. The deal is still pending a physical.
While the physical could happen at some point this week, MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez notes Fernandez will still need to work on obtaining a work visa to travel to the United States.
Fernandez, 25, has seen time as a reliever with La Serie Nacional in Cuba, playing for Holguin for all but a half of a season. Despite the fact that he is familiar with pitching out of the bullpen, Badler believes the Dodgers will utilize Fernandez as a starter. Fernandez, 6-foot-1 and 185 pounds, has a fastball that ranged from 86-88 mph last season. Badler adds Fernandez has increased his fastball velocity into the low-90s, though, and that he can also throw a curveball, changeup, and slider to keep hitters off balance.
Once his physical is complete, Fernandez will likely report to one of the Dodgers' higher minor league affiliates. In 2013-2014 with Holguin, Fernandez posted an 8-8 record to complement a 2.38 ERA in 27 games. 26 of those 27 appearances were in relief, with Fernandez also striking out 36 and walking 19 in 57.1 innings pitched. Fernandez had the most success in 2011-2012, when he served as Holguin's closer and led the league with a 1.52 ERA and posted 70 strikeouts and 23 walks.
Since Fernandez is 23 and has at least five years of professional experience, he is not subject to the bonus pools. Los Angeles will not have to pay a 40 percent tax on his contract because he signed a minor league deal, and as a result, the Dodgers have not exceed the limit for the 2014-2015 international signing period.