The Dodgers have agreed to sign 25-year-old Cuban righthander Pablo Millan Fernandez for an $8 million bonus on a minor league contract, Baseball America has learned. The deal, which is exempt from the international bonus pools, is still pending a physical.
There had been minimal buzz on Fernandez in the international scouting community. In Cuba, the 6-foot-1, 185-pound Fernandez was known more for his touch and feel than his pure stuff, with a fastball that ranged from 86-88 mph at this time last year in Cuba. However, more recently Fernandez has increased his fastball into the low-90s, unusual for a pitcher in his mid-20s, with a curveball, slider and changeup in his arsenal as well. Like many Cuban pitchers, Fernandez intentionally threw from several different arm slots, though since arriving in the Dominican Republic to train he has worked to repeat his release point.
Fernandez is expected to begin his career in the minors as a starting pitcher, most likely with one of the Dodgers' upper minors affiliates. He had primarily been a reliever in Cuba while pitching for Holguin in Serie Nacional. During the 2013-14 season, Fernandez posted a 2.83 ERA with 36 strikeouts and 19 walks in 57 1/3 innings, with 26 of his 27 appearances coming out of the bullpen. His best season in Cuba came in 2011-12, when he threw 95 innings of relief as Holguin's closer, with enough innings for his 1.52 ERA to lead the league, along with a 70-23 K-BB mark.
Even though Fernandez is not subject to the bonus pools, the Dodgers will not have to pay a 40 percent tax on his contract toward the $189 million luxury tax because his contract is a minor league deal. That means the deal does not account for any future salaries Fernandez would earn if he reaches the major leagues.
Fernandez, who has residence in Haiti, trained with Julian Camillo, who is known as "Titico" and was one of the scouts who signed Hanley Ramirez with the Red Sox in 2000.