Saturday, July 31, 2010

Nats announce Maya signing

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Yunesky Maya (left) is introduced next to Mike Rizzo and Livan Hernandez.
Updated at 6:37 p.m.

The Nationals officially signed and introduced Yunesky Maya, the Cuban pitcher who came to terms on a deal with the club last week.

Maya defected from his native Cuba to the Dominican Republic last year and had been working out and pitching in simulated games as various professional clubs scouted him. The 28-year-old right-hander committed to the Nationals last week, though the deal couldn't be completed until he was granted a visa to enter the United States and then passed a physical.

The Nationals rewarded Maya with a major-league contract; he'll immediately appear on the 40-man roster.

"A deep scouting effort has brought us our first major international signing that we think is going to impact our major-league ballclub immediately," general manager Mike Rizzo said.

Maya will report to Viera, Fla., on Monday and throw in front of minor-league pitching coordinator Spin Williams. He'll work his way through a standing throwing program, facing live hitters, pitching in a simulated game and then making at least one start in the minor leagues. The club believes he can pitch in the majors this season.

Maya, who just arrived in the United States for the first time yesterday, has a quick timeframe in mind, too.

Asked when he thinks he can reach the majors, he replied: "Yo quiero pronto [I want to soon]."

Maya pitched for the Cuban national team in both the 2006 and 2009 World Baseball Classic, going a combined 1-1 with an 0.87 ERA in six total appearances (one start). During six seasons in the Cuban National Series, he was 48-29 with a 2.51 ERA and won last year's equivalent of the Cy Young award. The 5-foot-11, 190-pound hurler possesses a low-to-mid 90s fastball as well as an assortment of offspeed pitches.

He also has an immediate fan in new teammate Livan Hernandez, a fellow Cuban who actually remembered Maya serving as a bat boy when he pitched in his country's national league in the mid-1990s.

"He was working over there, and he helped us," Hernandez said. "Now, it's a dream come true. We got him over here in a free country, with the best baseball in the world."


Positively Half St. said...

Excellent. Move him into the rotation quickly, sign Dunn to a 3-year deal, then just concentrate on Harper. All can be well.

Zib23 said...

+1 Positively. Good plan. Maya, Stras, Zimm, Zim, Dunn, Hammer, Storen, Clipp, Harper... We can work with this.

Finrockets said...

With that shirt, Rizzo looks like HE'S from Cuba. All he needs is a (victory) cigar.

Anonymous said...

Harper is probably 3 years away ... yes sign him but he's future potential along with Hood, Eury Perez, Bloxom, Ramirez, and now Freitas.

They need to get Solis and Cole signed ... Boras is going to drag to the last possible second anyway. The lefty Solis could arrive well before Harper. Cole is another potential power pitcher.

Harper probably won't even make or be with the team at the same time as Hammer and Dunn. Best to put that sort of fantasy out of everyone's mind.

But Maya yes. So, I guess we now know the Rizzo four in his 2011 rotation: Strasburg, Zimmermann, Maya, and Hernandez. The rest fight for the remaining 2 positions with Detwiler and Olsen having an advantage followed by Marquis.

Chris said...

Marquis is an upcoming free agent and probably won't be back in 2011. Hernandez is probably a fluke this season, we don't really need him around next year unless it's in a long relief/rotation insurance role. Also disagree with putting Zimm and Maya so high in the rotation so soon. They certainly have that potential, but let them prove themselves first.

I'd rather see Strasburg and Zimmerman be 1 and 3 to start next season. Let Strasburg be the Opening Day guy but sign or trade for a solid veteran starter to be the Number 2 guy. Someone better than Edwin Jackson, preferably, but we know how much Rizzo apparently loves Jackson so he might be the choice. Strasburg/Jackson/Zimmermann/Nava/Detwiler for 2011 looks pretty good to me. Keep Stammen and maybe Olsen around in the bullpen or in Syracuse for insurance in case one of the young arms struggle or get hurt.

Dave said...

@Chris: Marquis is on a two-year contract through 2011, $7.5M per year. That doesn't mean he'll be on the roster in 2011, but as of now he'll be under contract.

Also, Maya looks like the real deal right now. I don't see how "seasoning" him in a lot of minor-league appearances is going to improve the kind of numbers Mark cited for him above.

Anonymous said...

Congrats to Fidel Rizzo on what appears to be a very nice signing. JTinSC

Anonymous said...

Cuba has no "equivalent of the Cy Young award." It has an MVP and a ROY and that's it.

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