El Caribe in the Dominican Republic reports that Juan Carlos Oviedo has finally received his work visa and the Marlins reliever formerly known as Leo Nunez will soon make his way to the United States nearly six months after being charged with identity fraud.
However, don’t expect to see him in the Marlins’ bullpen any time soon. Once he arrives Oviedo will begin serving an eight-week suspension and continue losing out on his $6 million salary.
Oviedo was the Marlins’ closer for the past three seasons, saving 92 games before the team pushed him out of the ninth-inning role and signed Heath Bell to a three-year, $27 million deal. If healthy and effective Oviedo could emerge as a setup man for Bell, but he’s two months from even being on the Marlins’ radar and hasn’t faced big-league hitters since September 21.
UPDATE: Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes has a slightly different report, saying that Oviedo has received a pardon from the U.S. State Department that is necessary before getting a visa but has not gotten the actual visa yet.
The Atlanta Braves selected high school pitcher Carter Stewart with the number eight overall pick in the 2018 draft. Then, after the draft, they gave Stewart a below-slot signing bonus offer, claiming that they found problems with his wrist in his post-draft physical. Stewart ended up rejecting the offer and the MLBPA filed a grievance against the Braves on Stewart’s behalf.
The grievance sought to make Stewart a free agent it was considered a long shot at the time of its filing and, in fact, the grievance was rejected. Stewart, unable to attain free agency, enrolled at Eastern Florida State College, a two-year school that would’ve made him eligible for the 2019 draft.
Now, Ken Rosenthal reports, Stewart has pulled a crazy Ivan and is heading to Japan, having signed with the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks of the Japanese Pacific League. The terms of the deal aren’t known, but Rosenthal says Stewart was looking for a $7 million guarantee.
It’s a fascinating turn of events for Stewart who, this time last year, was considered perhaps the best amateur pitcher in baseball. Being lowballed and having his health questioned by the Braves may have been a wakeup call to Stewart, however, about his chances of finding a quick path the bigs in the U.S. If the shine did come off of his prospect status in the past year here, there’s every reason to believe that $7 million and a path to the bigs in Japan is a much better deal than several million less and a path to the bigs in America.
He’ll be worth watching over the next few years, that’s for sure. Both for his own sake and to see if, in this era of Major League Baseball’s capping of amateur bonuses and teams’ habit of manipulating service time, going overseas becomes more attractive to American high schoolers and college players.