Reds Sign Cuban Defector?

Rumors are flying that Cincinnati has reached an agreement with Cuban defector Raciel Iglesias. He's a diminutive right-hander that pitched out of the Cuban team's bullpen during the World Baseball Classic. If confirmed, the Reds could be looking at an unexpected addition to their bullpen this season after he tunes up a bit in the minors.

The draft is over, but Cincinnati may not be finished adding talent to their system. Though still not confirmed there are multiple rumors swirling around that they will reach an agreement with right-hander Raciel Iglesias who defected from Cuba in November.

Iglesias reportedly will receive a deal for five to six years for around $15 million. His age (either 23 or 24) prevents teams from using their allowed budget to sign international free agents. He represented his home country in the World Baseball Classic where he made five relief appearances and allowed two runs while striking out six in four-plus innings.

Iglesias does not bring a big physical presence out on the mound, standing 5'11"/165#. The stuff he throws reportedly is much bigger, a low/mid-90's fastball which he compliments with a sweeping breaking pitch that comes in around 80 mph.
Consensus opinion is that Iglesias probably won't need much more than a test drive or two in either AA or AAA before he's ready to join an MLB active roster later this season. He has a loose arm that he uses to pound the strike zone and there's some thought the he might be able to start despite his diminutive stature. Given the Reds situation if he indeed signs he'll probably be used exclusively out of the bullpen.

Of course Cincinnati has enjoyed the results of Cuban defection in their bullpen for a while now since Aroldis Chapman has been overpowering hitters and dazzling crowds with his triple digit heat. He's a sure bet to decline a $5 million player option after this season to become arbitration eligible and is eligible for free agency in 2017.

Cincinnati had previously added a couple of other (hopefully) big-time Caribbean arms into their system over the past couple of years. Jacob Constante shined during his debut in the Dominican League after signing last year. 2011 signee, Venezuelan Jonathan Perez should get back into action during the short season after losing last year to injury.


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