The Chicago Cubs May Have Signed Cuban Pitcher Armando Rivero

cubaLast June, before the new Collective Bargaining Agreement’s international spending restrictions kicked in, there were a flurry of rumors and signings around baseball. The most memorable for the Cubs, of course, was the Jorge Soler Saga, which ended in a nine-year, $30 million contract with the Cubs. There was also Yasiel Puig, who signed for even more money with the Dodgers, and Gerardo Concepcion, who had a rough go of it with the Cubs after signing in January.

But there was a pitcher whose name came up during that period as a possible Cubs target, and then we didn’t hear much about him anymore. His name was Armando Rivero, and we probably didn’t hear as much about him because (1) he was 23, and likely not subject to those spending restrictions (so his free agency could drag on for a while) and (2) he wasn’t thought to be a prospect of the same caliber as the other hot prospects being discussed at the time.

Well, we can talk about him now, because it looks like he’s signed with the Cubs. Like, maybe a long time ago. According to Arizona Phil at TCR, Rivero is on AA Tennessee’s assignment list for minor league camp. He wouldn’t be there unless he’d signed with the Cubs, so … cool.

Here’s what I said about Rivero when I wrote about him last June:

[T]he Cubs are reportedly interested in another newly-eligible Cuban free agent, 23-year-old pitcher Armando Rivero. The right-handed power arm uses a three-pitch mix, and has a fastball that sits in the mid 90s, but reportedly reached the upper 90s in workouts last year. He was a closer in Cuba, and one of the better ones. At 6’3″ and 195 lbs, he’s certainly got the body of a power pitcher. Other teams said to be interested include the Yankees, White Sox, Dodgers, Mets, and Indians.

Given his advanced age, and role in the bullpen, Rivero is the kind of prospect who could move quickly up the farm system ladder.

Teams have been scouting Rivero for months, and, although he isn’t the prospect that Soler is (or even, perhaps, Gerardo Concepcion is), he’s still someone in whom plenty of teams have interest. We might hear more about him in the next two weeks.

He could be one of the more interesting bullpen arms in the Cubs’ system, or he could be a guy we hear very little about going forward. We never even heard about the signing, so it’s fair to wonder whether he received any kind of substantial signing bonus at all. The bonus would tell us a fair bit about how much the Cubs like him, so I reckon many of us writers are going to start asking around about him, and we’ll probably get an answer soon-ish.

Rivero doesn’t yet show up on the Cubs’ transaction wire, for whatever that’s worth.

(A string of hat tips is due on this one, starting with Arizona Phil and David Elliott, and ending with John Arguello.)

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

45 responses to “The Chicago Cubs May Have Signed Cuban Pitcher Armando Rivero”

  1. Jacob

    So is he more of an organizational arm or a prospect arm? If he’s a prospect type, where does he rank in the Cubs system? Just trying to get a grasp on the situation.

    1. Luke

      Until I have more data on his pitches, I can’t rank him. Based on what little I know so far he would definitely be somewhere below Zych and McNutt (to name a couple of other closer candidate prospects), but I hesitate to say beyond that.

      And when get more info in on him, it is possible he’ll vault those two and move up the list. I just don’t know enough to say for sure yet.

      1. Jacob

        Yeah that’s kind of what I figured. So you are thinking upper 30′s range? That’s about what I assumed. Thanks!

  2. Seth

    I know this isn’t related to this post, but since Furcal went down for the year with TJ surgery, does anyone think a possible trade between the Rangers and Cardinals could happen? SS for pitcher/OF?

    1. bbmoney

      Seems like they line up. But it’d have to be a blockbuster for the Cardinals to get Andrus (I’m assuming it wouldn’t be Profar).

      1. hansman1982

        It doesn’t matter. They’ll slot Cedeno in there and he will perform to league average and they will win the Central.

        1. Crockett

          Rangers would hold all the leverage. I could see them requesting Miller and Rosenthal plus another piece or two. OR requesting Tavares and Miller.

          Either way…it would be an enormous amount coming from the Cardinals.

        2. bbmoney

          Ronny Cedeno? League average? Nah. But they probably don’t need him to be either.

          Or some other Cedeno I don’t know about. Either way STL would love to get a SS from somewhere, but quality SS’s aren’t cheap and are rarely available in a trade so the price would be very very steep.

        3. praying the cubs get ready to win

          I hope it’s the Cubs who win it but I think the Reds are better than the Cards

  3. Idaho Razorback

    I think I remember this guy. Wasn’t he on the TV show Silver Spoons in the mid 80′s?

    1. Kev

      I believe he was! He also was a mainstay on the 90s sitcom, “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.”

    2. Cizzle

      Yeah, and Carlton on the Fresh Prince!

      1. X The Cubs Fan

        You’re thinking of Alfonso Ribero

  4. GDB

    Never any harm in adding an interesting power arm even if he remains a bullpen only guy.

    Side note – Every single one of Arizona Phil’s posts at this time of year is a pleasure to read.

  5. JR

    Nice! Gotta love any arm added to the Cubs system. Hopefully he’s a hell of a lot better than Gerardo.

    1. ETS

      I’m still giving Concepcion’s 2012 performance a rating of “N/A”. It’s hard to judge a guy based solely on a limited sample that happened while defecting from a one country and contracting mono.

      1. JR

        Cool, I hope he can still make it. Everything I have read from “minor league experts” said he had no chance even before the mono. Hopefully he can pull his act together this year.

      2. Joel

        Speaking of mono, what ever happened to Hayden Simpson? And how does Tim Wilken get a pass for that disaster?

        1. Bryan

          Who said he got a pass? Is he supposed to get fired over a bad first round pick?

        2. DocPeterWimsey

          Wilken gets a pass (or at least most of one) because the Cubs FO was under orders to not spend big $$$ on draft picks. More than one of the Cubs first round picks last decade was slotted for the 3rd or 4th round by other teams, and Simpson was one of them.

          Lest this seem odd, remember that the Cubs were owned by a corporation, and the idea of investing a lot of money in young talent is very alien to corporate culture. (Paying young talent peanuts while firing older more expensive workers is the way that you do it!) When you spend the big $$$ in that world, you do it on the high priced free agents with a CV that reads like the GDP of a small country.

          1. dw8

            FWIW, the Simpson pick was during the Ricketts regime.

            1. CubFan Paul

              Exactly.

          2. DB Kyle

            The Cubs spent first-round equivalent money on Samardzija that year, so I don’t think it was because they didn’t want to spend on draft picks.

            They just thought they had a scouting coup. We’ll never know if they really did or not because of the mono.

            1. BT

              I might be reading you wrong, but Samardzija and Simpson were picked 4 years apart. And part of the reason Shark got so much money was because the Cubs didn’t have a 2nd, 3rd or 4th round pick to spend money on that year.

              1. DB Kyle

                Derp. It’s early (for me). I just rolled out of bed. Why was I thinking they were the same draft year? I’m getting senile in my old age.

                1. BT

                  Colvin was drafted the same year as Shark, and no one liked him for a long time, so maybe that’s where you got confused.

      3. DB Kyle

        Not that hard when he’s that awful.

    2. MightyBear

      Do not give up on Concepcion. Sahadev said on one of the podcasts that a minor league coach told him the Cubs only wanted him to throw fastballs last year because they thought his fastball needed work. His “out” pitch is a change up which is pretty wicked but he wasn’t allowed to use it. Then he got mono and was shut down. I still think Concepcion could be a valuable asset. He’s only 22.

      1. DB Kyle

        That was one report from one coach in one local newspaper, when he was trying to cover up for one of Concepcion’s awful appearances. Coaches just say things to protect their players sometime.

        I listened to a lot of the games, and he was throwing a full mix of pitches. I’ve never heard from anywhere who watched/followed any of his games that actually had him throwing only fastballs.

        Concepcion was either a massive scouting miss or he was signed to grease the wheels for other Cuban signings.

        As far this kid, if the reports are accurate, he slots comfortably into the back of our top-30 as an interesting prospect. But I’m skeptical that he actually throws that hard until we see it.

        1. Sahadev Sharma

          I don’t believe I said he was only throwing a fastball, if I did, I misspoke. But he definitely wasn’t throwing his change-up last season, I know this for a fact. It wasn’t just one report from one coach. I’ve been told this by both scouts that watched him and by people in the organization. That said, I’ve talked to plenty of people who say regardless of how good his change may be, they did not come away impressed. He’s not an NP, but if he doesn’t show some progression next season, that’s exactly what he’ll be this time next year.

          1. DB Kyle

            I’ll reluctantly raise my level of disbelief from “outright rejecting” to “skeptical” then.

          2. MightyBear

            I may have mispoke. I only remember on the podcast that he didn’t use his change up so he could work on other pitches. I thought it was his fastball but I may have remembered incorrectly. That podcast was awhile ago. Point is, don’t give up on Concepcion. Especially you DB Kyle.

            1. DB Kyle

              Sorry, too late.

              It all adds up. He had disturbingly awful peripherals in the Cuban league. We had whispers that other teams were in complete disbelief over how much we paid him. We’ve got a scout saying that if he had been a college pitcher at the same age, he would have left his start because he wasn’t worth scouting.

              I’ve completely given up on him. I really suspect it was a “grease the wheels” signing for Soler and other Cubans.

              1. MightyBear

                Good news Sahadev is I am listening to the podcasts and I’m even PAYING ATTENTION! How about that?

                1. DB Kyle

                  The podcasts are awesome.

                  1. Sahadev Sharma

                    And thanks for listening and the compliments on the pod, Brett and I love doing them. And yes, he definitely junked the CH to work on the FB, but not just solely throw the FB. That’s probably where our disconnect was, MightyBear.

              2. Sahadev Sharma

                DB Kyle, I don’t really disagree with you (as far as his prospect status goes). I’m gonna keep an eye on him in case the CH turns out to be good enough, but I’m not holding my breath or touting him as anything legit.

        2. TWC

          “Concepcion was either a massive scouting miss or he was signed to grease the wheels for other Cuban signings.”

          Probably. And if the Cubs pissed away $5m to help sign some of the more interesting other Cubans, so be it. The thing about Concepcion that bugs me the most is the year+ that he spent on the 40-man. *That* was a waste.

      2. cubsnivy56

        Ok so the wife and I were out tonight for our weekly beanbag league and I had more than my share of adult beverages (yes I was on a mission). So I log on to get my nightly fix of CUBS news and I am reminded of why I love this site. The posters are so well informed and the information shared makes me a better fan! THank you!

        Fuji

  6. Kev

    ¡Es obvio que a Theo y Jed les gustan los jugadores de béisbol de la isla de Cuba!

    1. cubsnivy56

      por seguro

  7. Idaho Razorback

    Que?

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