Nationals Sign Top Cuban Defector

(Photo: Getty Images)

The Nationals made a significant international signing by getting Yuniesky Maya. Some believe Maya may be able to provide immediate help to the Nationals rotation.

The Nationals have made a major move into the international player market by snagging Cuban defector Yuniesky Maya. The Nationals will run Maya through a physical next week in Washington and he will likely head to the team's training complex in Viera, Florida before the Nationals determine exactly where the 28 year-old will start his pro career. It's not out of the question that Maya would be ready to pitch for the Nationals almost immediately, based on the reports that have come out of the Dominican Republic, where Maya has been living and pitching. 

GM Mike Rizzo has been non-committal about Maya, but knows he's not far away from being major league ready. "He is battle tested and he is seasoned," raved Rizzo about the right-hander. "He is a young, poised Major League caliber pitcher."

The Red Sox, Indians, Blue Jays and Yankees, along with division rivals Philadelphia and New York were all trying to sign Maya, who has been eligible to sign with a major league club for about a month now. Maya established himself as a starter through various international tournaments, including the World Baseball Classic in both 2006 and 2009 and he also pitched for Cuba in the 2005 and 2007 World Baseball Cup. In 2009, Maya was left off Cuba's team for the World Baseball Cup because of what were termed "serious disciplinary infractions," which many people believed was a failed defection attempt. In September of 2009, Maya made a successful attempt at defecting with an eye toward coming to the United States and pitching in the majors.

Maya throws a low-90s fastball, a curve, change-up and slider as part of his arsenal.


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