On the heels of big free agent signings from Cuban defectors Jose Abreu and Alexander Guerrero signing big free agent deals, it appears that Odrisamer Despaigne, who defected in July, will also be looking to sign in the offseason. The Yankees, among other teams, scouted him while he pitched in Spain. He will have an upcoming showcase in Mexico where his agent expects he will sign a major league contract.
Everything's ready and the paperwork arrived quickly for Odrisamer. Since word got out about his escape, teams from the Majors began to get interested in the young man, and this interest has continued growing. In Mexico he'll try out in front of the scouts, and we'll negotiate the contract there.
The 26-year-old right-hander has pitched in Cuba for eight seasons and owns a 51-39 record with a 3.65 ERA, though his final season might have been his best after he posted a 2.58 ERA. He finishes his career in Cuba with a 6.4 K/9, 3.7 BB/9, 8.8 H/9 in 957.3 innings. Despaigne can be considered a workhorse, having pitched in at least 20 games every year since 2010. In the 2012 season he combine for 30 starts in 220 innings between the regular season and the playoffs. He also pitched for Cuba in the World Baseball Classic along Aroldis Chapman and Jose Abreu.
When compared to recent defectors Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez and Dalier Hinojosa, Despaigne has a better strikeout rate and ERA, but a much higher walk rate. He also eclipses them both in innings pitched and starts since the 2010 season. The Phillies signed Gonzalez to a three-year, $12 million deal, while the Red Sox signed Hinojosa for $4 million. Despaigne is younger than both, however Obstructed View says he might not be worth a pricey investment.
Despaigne has been trying to set up residency in Spain since he defected by leaving his team at the airport in Paris. It seems he has yet to be cleared by the United States Office of Foreign Assets Control and will be unable to sign with a team until he is.
It's not known the level of the Yankees' interests, but we should know more, like who the favorites are to sign him, once the showcase in Mexico takes place.