According to a team press release Sunday morning, the Los Angeles Dodgers officially signed Cuban righty Yaisel Sierra to a six-year contract.
Per Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, Sierra is expected to receive a guarantee of about $30 million. Because of his age and experience, he is not subject to the international signing guidelines.
Sierra, 24, pitched five seasons in Cuba’s Serie Nacional with Holguin (2010-14) and Sancti Spiritus (2012). During that span, he went 16-21 with 25 saves and a 4.23 ERA in 131 games which included 25 starts. In his 2013 season with Holguin, Sierra posted a 3.92 ERA with a 7.0 K/9 in 101 innings, despite recording a 5.7 BB/9.
In a report last week, Keith Law of ESPN (subscription required) noted that Sierra should be close to being MLB-ready and may best profile as a middle reliever when he debuts for the Dodgers:
“He has a very quick arm, coming from a high three-quarters slot with a 93-97 mph fastball and a hard cutter-like slider that flashes plus but is nowhere near consistent enough. He has no changeup to speak of yet and well below-average control.”
During a showcase in Florida last October, Sierra performed well before an audience of 350 scouts and baseball officials. Ben Badler of Baseball America (subscription required) recapped Sierra’s performance:
“Sierra threw 34 pitches on Thursday, including 19 fastballs, 12 sliders and two changeups. His average fastball velocity was 94.7 mph, and the pitch peaked at 96 multiple times and once dropped to 91. Sierra had outstanding command of his fastball down and to his glove side. He also had command of his slider in the same spot. Sierra’s slider broke with very late two-plane movement, and he ran it away from righthanded batters consistently, and the pitch showed the ability to compete in the strike zone. Sierra threw what appeared to be a changeup twice. The pitch had more vertical movement than his slider, and did not have overwhelming fade, though he did hit his spots with it.”
Badler also noted on Twitter that Sierra could rise to a potential mid-rotation starter with the help of a very experienced Dodgers’ pitching staff. In spite of the high risk factor, there’s reason to hope he can improve his control.
Also in the Baseball America interview, Sierra seemed excited and confident in regards to the development of his secondary pitches:
“I worked 24/7 for my slider and changeup,” Sierra told Teddy Cahill through translator and former big leaguer Alex Sanchez. “I was very excited to throw my slider and changeup because they don’t throw that kind of pitch in Cuba.”
To create room on the 40-man roster for Sierra, the Dodgers placed right-handed pitcher Frankie Montas on the 60-day disabled list after having rib resection surgery last week.
Manager Dave Roberts indicated early Sunday that Sierra should be arriving to camp within the next few days.
(Photo Credit: mlb.com)
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