Cuban right-hander Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez has been drawing plenty of interest around MLB, but teams have been unable to bid on him because he had to secure an unblocking license from the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) first. The wait is officially over.
Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com reports that Gonzalez has been cleared by the U.S. government and is now free to sign with any team. The bidding is expected to move pretty quickly, as Sanchez hears that a deal could come together within the next two weeks.
Gonzalez defected from Cuba earlier this year and took up residency in Mexico while waiting to be cleared to come to the United States. The 26-year-old stands at 6-foot-3 and was described by Sanchez as having “a fastball in the mid-90s, a changeup, fork and a curveball.”
Because Gonzalez is older than 23 years old and played in Cuba’s top league for more than three seasons, he will not be subject to MLB’s international spending cap. One recent report suggested he could get a deal in the range of $40-60 million. The Dodgers, Red Sox, and Cubs are among the teams expected to be in the mix.
Jake Arrieta‘s bat is in midseason form already. The Cubs’ ace swatted a solo home run to center field off of Zack Greinke in Thursday afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition game, his first homer of the spring.
The blast went 465 feet, according to MLB.com’s Daren Willman.
Arrieta has hit two home runs in each of the past two seasons. Madison Bumgarner (eight) and Noah Syndergaard (four) are the only other pitchers to match or exceed his output in that department.
Greinke, meanwhile, is hoping to bounce back after a miserable 2016 season. He finished with an uncharacteristic 4.37 ERA in 26 starts in his first year with the Diamondbacks.
Angels first baseman Luis Valbuena will miss the next four to six weeks with a strained right hamstring, Pedro Moura of the Los Angeles Times reports.
Valbuena, 31, signed a two-year, $15 million contract with the Angels in January and was on track to get the lion’s share of the playing time at first base. While he’s out, however, C.J. Cron will handle first base on a regular basis. When Valbeuna returns, the two will likely form a platoon.
Last year with the Astros, Valbuena hit a solid .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances.