The Dodgers returned to the international market with a vengeance last year, signing Cuban outfielder Yasiel Puig for $42 million and committing $62 million to acquiring South Korean left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu.
Both of those players have paid big dividends for the Dodgers this year, and they did again Monday in the Dodgers' 3-1 win over the Giants. Now the team figures to be in the forefront of a bidding war for another international player.
The Dodgers were one of several teams scouting Cuban right-hander Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez in Tijuana last week. Gonzalez, 26, defected from Cuba earlier this year and established residency in Mexico. In last week's showcase, he pitched three innings for a low-level Mexican team.
Because of his age and experience in the Cuban league, Gonzalez is a free agent and can sign with any team without his contract counting against the international signing cap instituted by Major League Baseball a year ago.
Unlike Puig, Gonzalez is a fairly well-known commodity. He pitched for the Cuban national team in international competitions like the 2010 World University Games, the Baseball World Cup in 2009 and 2011 and the 2011 Pan-Am Games.
Gonzalez must be cleared by the U.S. Department of the Treasury before he can sign with a big-league team. However, that paperwork could be completed soon, and there are some talent evaluators who believe Gonzalez will be ready to pitch at the major league level by the end of this season.
Meanwhile, Puig and Ryu continue to show that they were wise investments. Puig went 3-for-4 with a homer and two RBIs in his first meeting with the Giants, while Ryu threw 6 2/3 innings of one-run ball in a no-decision.