While the Phillies were being handed their sixth loss in a row on Friday night, one in which Cole Hamels (who allowed all of two earned runs over seven innings) took the loss, Ruben Amaro was apparently busy behind the scenes, as word broke just after the game that the Phillies had signed RHP Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez. Yahoo! Sports' Jeff Passan broke the news.
Gonzalez, a 26-year-old who defected from Cuba earlier this year, had been auditioning for teams as of late, an apparently impressed the Phillies brass enough to warrant a six-year contract worth $48 million. Gonzalez is the latest in a string of Cuban defectors to sign big money contracts in the MLB, and is following in the footsteps of Los Angeles' Yasiel Puig, and Oakland's Yoenis Cespedes. The Phillies can only hope that Gonzalez will do for them as Puig and Cespedes have done for their organizations.
The reactions to the signing have been a bit of a mixed bag given the relative lottery-ticket nature of international players, as well as the price tag, the fact that the Phillies have made a big gamble in such a fashion is a somewhat encouraging sign. Ruben Amaro and company have been very by-the-books when it came to running the team, as evidenced by some of their recent moves, but they have had seemingly very little interest in going outside of the US in search of talent. This potentially signals a shift in attitude and philosophy, one that can be furthered if Gonzalez is able to have a bit of success in red pinstripes.
While the 2013 season is mostly a lost cause at this point, the odds are good that Gonzalez will see Major League action with the Phillies before the end of the season, with the goal of him being a rotation mainstay in 2014. The RHP utilizes a mid-90s fastball to go along with a change up, curve, splitter, and cutter.
A potential side-effect of this move is that it potentially makes someone Kyle Kendrick (or Cliff Lee) expendable. With Jonathan Pettibone performing nicely, it wouldn't surprise me if Amaro opted to move Kendrick before the deadline. Of course, with so many questions abounding about Roy Halladay's health and next season's pitching staff, it also wouldn't surprise me if they held onto Kendrick for the sake of depth. Either way, this move could cause a ripple effect of personnel moves heading to the trade deadline.
The big question, now, is whether or not his success will translate to the Majors. While Yu Darvish has been dominating big league hitters, there is a bit of a risk in taking on a somewhat unknown quantity. Fortunately, the consensus among scouts is that Gonzalez should have no trouble finding his way in a rotation. Assuming that Amaro doesn't do anything too crazy at the deadline, there is a decent chance that the 2014 rotation will feature Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay, and Gonzalez. Of course, that relies upon Lee not being traded and Halladay returning, but there seems to be a decent change of both of those players being with the club next season. If that's the case, the rotation will arguably be a strength for the Phillies.
With so much talk surrounding the Phillies lately consisting of not if, but when, they should become sellers, it's a nice to see the front office make a move like this that paints the future with a much brighter brush.