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Reds sign Cuban pitcher Raisel Iglesias to seven-year deal

Mark Townsend
Big League Stew

The Cincinnati Reds have signed Cuban right-hander Raisel Iglesias to a seven-year contract worth just under $27 million, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer's C. Trent Rosecrans. CBS Sports' Jon Heyman adds that the money could rise however as Iglesias can opt into arbitration within the deal.

The contract will run through the 2020 season, but it's not expected that Iglesias will join the team before the end of the regular season. In fact, general manager Walt Jocketty hopes he'll be ready to pitch in the Arizona Fall League. In other words, it's a forward thinking move for a struggling Reds team that could obviously use the help now, but were mainly focused on adding a talent they covet.

The Reds have been reportedly near a deal with the 24-year-old for several weeks. Once finalized, the expectation was that Cincinnati would plan to groom him as a setup man ahead of countryman Aroldis Chapman. During his time with Isla De La Juventud and the Cuban national team, pitching in relief was his primary role, so it was a logical assumption to make. However, according to Baseball America's Ben Badler, the Reds plan to begin his development in the minors as a starter and believe that will be his role once he reaches the big leagues. 

The 5-foot-11, 165 pound righty will definitely need some seasoning. His fastball velocity sits in the 92-95 mph range, which is fine. He also possesses a sweeping curve that at its best is a swing-and-miss pitch, but based on that description doesn't sound reliable just yet. Factor in some control issues that are said to be improving, and you have a product that isn't finished quite yet.

Here's a little more on Iglesias from Badler:

He doesn’t repeat his mechanics, which affects his command, though part of that is by design, as Iglesias (like many other Cuban pitchers) intentionally moves around his arm slot and manipulates the shape and speed of his breaking ball. Since leaving the island, he’s also shown some feel for a changeup. Iglesias probably isn’t ready to go straight to the majors, but given his present talent level, Double-A would make sense once he’s in game condition.

“He’s a big arm,” said one scout who saw Iglesias recently. “He’s a bullpen guy for me. I don’t see how he’s going to start, but he’s a seventh, eighth-inning kind of guy. He’s up to 95 with a pretty good slider and he’s starting to throw the changeup now with fair feel for it, but I don’t see the command or ability to repeat (his delivery) to start. He has a great arm. I think he’s two years away (from the majors).”

The Reds obviously differ on him being a reliever, and Iglesias signing there suggests he differs on that as well.

It'll be interesting to see how the situation develops. He could be moved back to the bullpen if the experiment comes off the rails, but how receptive would he be given the structure of his contract? A starter would command more money in arbitration than a seventh or eighth inning reliever. Then again, getting to the big leagues should be the ultimate goal, regardless of his role.

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Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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