Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez was 3-1 with 2.91 ERA and 36 strikeouts in 34 innings for Cuba in the 2009 and 2011 World Cups. (AP)
CHICAGO – The Phillies have finalized their agreement with Cuban pitcher Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez.
Gonzalez on Friday signed a three-year contract worth $12 million, the largest international deal in Phillies history. The deal includes an option for 2017.
Gonzalez, a 26-year-old righty, had agreed to sign with the Phillies in late July. Initially he was to get a six-year, $48 million contract, but health concerns forced the two sides to rework the deal. Gonzalez had elbow chips removed in 2010.
"Any time you sign a free agent there are always risks," Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. said Friday during the first of three games at Wrigley Field. "Our doctors took a look and we feel comfortable enough moving forward with it."
Gonzalez, whom scouts believe can develop into a No. 2 or No. 3 starter, projects as a member of the Phillies’ starting rotation in 2014. He is headed for Clearwater, Fla. to begin working out with team personnel.
"He's going to go to the Florida Instructional League this year," Amaro said. "We'll find out once he starts competing, but I hope he slides into the rotation for 2014. ... Great stuff, we'll see how it translates at the major-league level."
With Gonzalez, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels in the mix, the Phillies' 2014 rotation is beginning to take shape. That starting staff could also include Kyle Kendrick, who will enter his fourth and final year of salary arbitration; Roy Halladay, a free agent at season's end; and rookie right-handers Jonathan Pettibone and Ethan Martin.
"More than anything, we're trying to find different ways to find talent," Amaro said. "The major-league free-agent market is difficult to navigate. There are risks everywhere. There are risks with this guy, too. But from what we've seen, we think he can be pretty special."