The Orioles signed Cuban defector Henry Urrutia to a minor league contract with a $778,500 signing bonus back in July and were hoping that he’d arrive in the United States in time to get a feel for Double-A ball.
But the Double-A season has been over for seven weeks and Urrutia has yet to step foot on U.S. soil.
According to Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun, the 25-year-old Urrutia has set up residency in the Dominican Republic but “continues to have difficulty obtaining a visa.” It’s not clear what might be holding up the approval and a resolution is not currently in sight.
Urrutia, who projects a corner outfielder or first baseman, batted .397/.461/.597 with 12 home runs in 305 at-bats for Las Tunas in 2010. He was barred from playing in 2011 after a failed defection attempt.
Free agent right-hander Henderson Alvarez signed a deal with the Tigres de Quintana Roo of the Mexican Baseball League earlier this week, FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Friday. The righty wasn’t necessarily too fringey a player to hack it in the big leagues, but there were no MLB takers in attendance during his showcase in Venezuela last month and he clearly felt it best to try his luck elsewhere.
The 27-year-old’s last major league gig came with the Phillies, for whom he delivered a 4.30 ERA, 6.8 BB/9 and 3.7 SO/9 over 14 2/3 innings in 2017. While he’s not too far removed from his first and only All-Star bid in 2014, he was besieged by shoulder issues in 2015 and 2016 and underwent season-ending surgeries as a result.
That added injury risk, coupled with the fact that he hasn’t pitched more than 22 innings in a single season since 2014, may have been too much for major league teams to take on this spring. Assuming he steers clear of further injuries, however, a return to the majors may not be entirely out of the question in years to come.