The Royals made their first free agent splash of the winter today by announcing the signing of 19 year old Cuban defector Noel Arguellas to a 5 year, $7 million deal plus an extra $2 million in incentives.
Arguellas and teammate Jose Iglesias defected this past summer from the Cuban National Team while the team was in Canada. Iglesias, a shortstop, signed with the Boston Red Sox for an $8.25 million dollar deal. Arguellas has a reported mid 90s fastball and to developing plus pitches in his curveball and changeup. Arguellas is said to have went in the top 10 had he been in the 2009 Rule IV draft in June. Arguellas immediately becomes a top 5 prospect in the Royals system, and it has been rumored that he will start 2010 in A ball on the fast track to the majors given the major league deal.
This is a very good signing for the Royals, signing a potential ace for little more than $1 million per season. Arguellas adds to a very promising crop of pitchers that are making their way through the minor league system.
Update: There seems to be varying opinions as to how to spell his last name, but it is either Arguellas or Arguelles. Keith Law thinks it will take him 3 or 4 years to reach the majors. I am confused as to if the 7 mill is a bonus that will be stretched over 5 years, or if the Royals will only have Arguellas for 5 years. Either way he should be on the fast track to the Bigs.