SAN DIEGO -- The Padres announced on Friday they have signed Cuban pitcher Odrisamer Despaigne to a Minor League contract.
Despaigne, a 27-year-old right-hander, reportedly agreed to a $1 million bonus.
Early last month, San Diego was rumored to be closing in on a deal with Despaigne, but he needed to obtain a visa and pass a physical before the deal could be officially announced. The Padres have watched Despaigne for a while, including his workout at the team's facility in Arizona during Spring Training.
Despaigne defected from Cuba during a tournament in Europe last summer, established residency in Spain and began working out in Mexico.
The Havana native played professionally for the Havana Industriales of Cuba's Serie Nacional for eight seasons, posting a career 61-43 record with a 3.55 ERA with 684 strikeouts against 390 walks over 213 games. Despaigne might peg best as a long reliever if he reaches the big leagues. For now, he could head to extended spring camp in Arizona before eventually heading to a Minor League affiliate.
In February, Padres executive chairman Ron Fowler vowed that the organization would be more active in the international market.
"We understand international is very important," Fowler said. "We're taking a look at how we can improve in that area. It's important for us to be able to compete in that area."
San Diego was also aggressive in its pursuit of Cuban shortstop Aledmys Diaz, who was a part of that Spring Training workout with Despaigne. Diaz eventually signed a four-year, $8 million deal with the Cardinals.