Cuban righthander Yoan Lopez has agreed to sign with the Diamondbacks for $8.25 million.
Lopez is 21, so he is subject to the international bonus pools. The Lopez signing puts the Diamondbacks well beyond their allotted pool space for the current 2014-15 signing period, which means that, along with a 100 percent tax on their pool overage, they will not be able to sign anyone for more than $300,000 for the next two signing periods, starting with the 2015-16 signing period that begins on July 2. That’s a significant sacrifice for the Diamondbacks, who finished with the worst record in MLB last season and will have the biggest international bonus pool in 2015-16. Lopez’s bonus is the biggest one ever for a player subject to the bonus pools since the pool era began on July 2, 2012.
Lopez was one of the more intriguing young arms in Cuba at the time he left the island. In Cuba, Lopez had thrown in the low-90s, but he added size and strength since then to his 6-foot-3, 190-pound frame and has touched the mid-90s. During his final season pitching in Cuba for Isla De La Juventud in Serie Nacional, Lopez posted a 3.12 ERA with a 28-11 K-BB mark in 49 innings in seven starts. When Lopez pitched in Cuba’s 18U national league in 2011, he had a 1.74 ERA in 77 2/3 innings with 88 strikeouts and 45 walks, ranking second in the league in both strikeouts and walks, and third in wild pitches (9).
It’s not known yet where Lopez will begin his career, but given his age and talent level, one of the Class A levels would seem like a good fit for him to start. Since Lopez is subject to the bonus pools, he had to sign a minor league contract, but the Diamondbacks plan to invite him to major league spring training.
Lopez’s former Isla De La Juventud teammates, second baseman Andy Ibanez and righthander Jorge Despaigne, are also out of Cuba and should sign at some point in the near future.
Here’s a look at Lopez’s stuff from a Serie Nacional game last year facing Hector Olivera.