Seattle Mariners Sign Cuban Pitcher Misael Siverio


For the last few years, Cuba has been at the center of the baseball world. An intriguing source of talent, Cuba was rapidly breeding ballplayers who proved willing to risk their lives in order to escape their homeland and pursue a major league dream. Yoenis Cespedes took Cuban talent to the big stage, and subsequent stars like Jose Abreu helped reinforce that the small island nation was the reigning best source of international talent.

September brought us Rusney Castillo, and November seems bound to bring us Yasmany Tomas. Yoan Moncada is coming, too. Major League Baseball is awash with high-end Cuban players, and the Seattle Mariners want in on the action. Which brings us to the team’s latest addition: 25-year-old left handed pitcher Misael Siverio.

Siverio’s coming to Seattle on a minor league deal, but one of the split nature. He’s getting a $275,000 bonus, per Kiley McDaniel, and his contract will pay him $120,000 if he’s in the minors or $508,000 if he’s in the majors. He’s cheap, he’s still young, and he’s got experience pitching in the rotation and in relief. As far as depth goes, Siverio’s a nice piece.

But there’s more here than just depth. At 5’9″, Siverio’s a smaller guy and thus, perhaps unsurprisingly, a finesse pitcher. He’s got a brainy four-pitch mix that would profile well towards the middle-back of a rotation. He was a strikeout pitcher in Cuba’s Serie Nacional, but during his most recent time in the Mexican League stepped it up to over a K per inning.

So what the Mariners have here is a guy with four possible major league pitches who’s still younger than James Paxton and recently started striking out more batters than ever. He’s not even guaranteed a roster spot, and even if he does make the club right away he’s guaranteed to make right around the minimum salary. The upside is tremendous. The downside? There is no downside.

It’s also hard not to be reminded of Roenis Elias, the last out-of-nowhere Cuban pitching sensation who happened to play for these same Seattle Mariners. Siverio’s more developed than Elias, and though he’s a fundamentally different pitcher it will be interesting to see if his countryman’s success perhaps eases his own journey through the minors. If, you know, he goes to the minors at all.

San Diego signed another Cuban pitcher, Odrisamer Despaigne, to a minor league deal last winter. He is perhaps Siverio’s closest comparable, a little-known Cuban arm signed to a split deal so the team could figure out what they had while also acknowledging they may want him in the rotation quickly if all looked alright. Despaigne shot through the farm and made sixteen MLB starts last year. That’s probably the plan, or at least Siverio’s plan.

Welcome to Seattle, Misael Siverio. He’s the M’s biggest addition yet this offseason, and has a better-than-you’d-think of contributing in 2015. Not a huge chance, mind you, but the worst-case scenario here is that Siverio serves as much-needed depth. Which makes this a great deal for the M’s.