The Los Angeles Dodgers continued with their international spending spree on Tuesday as they reportedly agreed with Cuban native Yaisel Sierra on a six-year, $30 million contract.
The 24-year-old right-hander left Cuba last April after spending the last five years pitching there.
He was part of a showcase held in Florida last October during which he faced high-school age batters and tossed three perfect innings.
Given his age, Sierra does not count against the Dodgers’ $2 million international bonus pool money that the club blew past when the signing period opened in April 2015.
In exceeding that, the Dodgers will pay a 100 percent tax penalty on dollars spent during the current signing period, and won’t be able to sign any international free agents for bonuses over $300,000 in each next two international signing periods, beginning in July 2016.
As for Sierra, while he spent the majority of his career coming out of the bullpen, the Dodgers intend to first develop him as a starting pitcher, according to Dylan Hernandez of the LA Times:
#Dodgers plan to develop Yaisel Sierra as a starter, but could use him as a reliever, depending on their needs.
— Dylan Hernandez (@dylanohernandez) January 12, 2016
During the 2014 season Sierra was used as a reliever in all 36 of his games pitched. However, it wasn’t to much success as he finished the season with a 6.10 ERA in 62 innings pitched.
Although Sierra has a fastball that can hover in the mid-90s, there are concerns over his struggle with control. Given the Dodgers’ starting pitching depth throughout the organization, Sierra’s path of least resistance to the Majors may be as a relief pitcher.
In fours seasons pitching in the Cuban League, Sierra was 16-21 with a 4.23 ERA and 1.49 WHIP.