The Cubs have signed Cuban righthander Armando Rivero to a contract with a $3.1 million bonus.
International sources last year in July said the Cubs were going to sign Rivero for the same terms, so it appears the agreement may have been in place for several months. However, the Cubs did not officially submit the contract until this month. BA correspondent Phil Rogers first reported Rivero's signing.
Rivero was among the Praver Shapiro Sport Management clients who were living and training in the Dominican Republic but used permanent Haitian residency papers to sign, causing visa delays for players like Yankees lefthander Omar Luis and Orioles outfielder Henry Urrutia. Cubs outfielder Jorge Soler, another Cuban player of Praver Shapiro Sport Management, signed with Chicago last year in June.
Rivero, 25, has middle relief potential. Rivero was a reliever in Cuba's Serie Nacional for Industriales, where was a teammate of Cubs lefthander Gerardo Concepcion. In his final season in Cuba in 2010-11, Rivero had a 3.06 ERA with 38 strikeouts and 21 walks in 47 innings. Rivero also pitched briefly at the FISU World University Championships in Japan in 2010, when he threw 10 pitches and struck out two batters in a scoreless inning for Cuba.
At 6-foot-3, 180 pounds, Rivero's best pitch is his fastball, which sits in the low-90s and peaks at 96 mph. He doesn't have a plus secondary pitch but he has a solid splitter with late tumble. He'll drop to a low three-quarters arm slot, which may be why he has trouble throwing a reliable breaking ball. Some scouts have said Rivero throws a curveball and a slider, while others think he's just manipulating the same pitch. His low slow makes it difficult for him to stay on top of the ball, giving his breaking ball more side to side action. He also has a slight hook in his arm action that affects his command.
Since Rivero is 25 and has four seasons of professional experience in Cuba's top league, his bonus will be exempt from Chicago's 2012-13 international bonus pool. For the current signing period, Cuban signings are exempt from the international bonus pools as long as they are at least 23 and have played in Serie Nacional for at least three seasons.
The Cubs haven't said where Rivero will begin his career, but he's advanced enough that Double-A Tennessee would seem to be an option.
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