When it comes to unknown prospects – most frequently, that refers to Cuban prospects who’ve only been scouted in a very limited capacity – one of the best ways to tell what teams think of them is by the signing bonus they receive. Of course, that isn’t always a perfect signal (Gerardo Concepcion, for example, got a very healthy $6 million, and was not considered a tip-top prospect), but it’s often the best start we have.
I’ve been openly wondering for a few days just how much money recent Cuban signee Armando Rivero received from the Cubs. Anything in the $500,000 to $1 million range was going to suggest to me that he was, at a minimum, a legit potential future reliever.
He got $3.1 million. Yo.
Rivero, who is actually 25 – not 23, as we’d previously believed – was exempt from international spending limitations, so, by virtue of teams’ inability to spend willy nilly everywhere that they might want to, he was going to get more money than he would have in previous years. But $3.1 million is still a very healthy chunk of change, and the Cubs clearly believed they had to have him. I expect they outbid a few other teams for his services.
At 6-foot-3, 180 pounds, Rivero’s best pitch is his fastball, which sits in the low-90s and peaks at 96 mph. He doesn’t have a plus secondary pitch but he has a solid splitter with late tumble. He’ll drop to a low three-quarters arm slot, which may be why he has trouble throwing a reliable breaking ball. Some scouts have said Rivero throws a curveball and a slider, while others think he’s just manipulating the same pitch. His low slow makes it difficult for him to stay on top of the ball, giving his breaking ball more side to side action. He also has a slight hook in his arm action that affects his command.
Badler suggests that Rivero could start out at AA Tennessee, and could make an impact in the Cubs’ bullpen soon as a middle reliever. So, let’s be clear about what Rivero isn’t: he’s probably not a stud, closer-type reliever.
While he may prove a valuable piece of the bullpen in future years, this is simply about accumulating talented pitching, and paying handsomely to do it (because the routes are limited these days). Even if he merely contributes as a decent middle reliever for a few years, it was probably worth the investment.