Answer to Diamondbacks' pitching problems may be coming from Cuba
How can the team acquire starting pitching help for the pennant race without having to trade a single prospect?
The answer: Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez
Aroldis Chapman, Yoenis Cespedes, Yasiel Puig, Dayan Viciedo, Alexei Ramirez, Jose Contreras: the infusion of Cuban talent into Major League Baseball has not only picked up speed, but the success rate is far exceeding that of the Asian invasion.
Elite Cuban talent is proving they can play in the Majors right now. And Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez is apparently the next "can't miss" prospect. The 26-year-old right-hander is expected to receive government clearance to join MLB this week. He'll then become a free agent. And whoever wins the bidding war for Gonzalez would have the opportunity to insert him into the rotation this season.
Forty-five Major League scouts were in attendance at a recent Tijuana Toros game to watch Gonzalez and report back to their bosses. The general scouting report describes a strongly built 6-foot-3 righty with an arsenal of Major League-caliber pitches. The fastball tends to sit between 90-94 but can jump to 96.
The price range being thrown about for Gonzalez is around five years, $60 million. Steep, considering he's never thrown a pitch in the Majors. However, the starting pitching market for contending teams looking to trade is loaded with incomplete candidates.
- Chicago's Jake Peavy is coming off the DL again and is owed $29 million over the next two years.
- Milwaukee's Yovani Gallardo is an $11 million per year player signed through 2014, and his ERA is currently near 5.00, as he struggles through the worst season of his young career.
- The Cubs' Matt Garza has been on fire lately, but the D-backs would be renting the pitcher for two months. And I don't think small-to-mid market clubs should ever be renters.
- I hear Jeff Samardzija is also available, but he has both a 2013 season and career ERA over 4.00. Plus, the Cubs are likely to demand a top prospect or two.
So why not Gonzalez?
The Dodgers' addition of Yasiel Puig has turned the team's fortunes around. Yoenis Cespedes went from Cuban star to one year refugee to Oakland A's 2012 Opening Day center fielder to integral piece of the 2012 AL West Champions in a little more than one year's time.
Of course, every team in MLB is likely motivated by the idea of landing the next Cuban game changer, so the bidding war could get out of hand. If that's the case, Arizona wouldn't be able to hang with the big markets.
If the price tag would happen to stay around five years, $60 million, could Gonzalez be the D-backs' starting pitching solution without the expense of parting with a single prospect?
Chuck Powell, KTAR.com & ArizonaSports.com contributor