"We're excited and happy that Miguel Alfredo is going to be a Phillie," said Jaime Torres, the agent for the 26-year-old pitcher who defected from Cuba in February. "Hopefully he'll help the Phillies get to the World Series next year."
Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said Gonzalez would report soon to the team's spring-training facility in Clearwater, Fla., and then participate in the instructional-league program that begins in mid-September.
The first reports that the Phillies were on the verge of signing Gonzalez surfaced at the end of July, with some suggesting that he could receive a six-year contract worth up to $60 million.
Neither Torres nor Amaro was willing to discuss what dragged the negotiations on for another month, but the most likely answer is that the team had some concerns about the pitcher's arm. Gonzalez had surgery to remove bone chips in 2010.
"Any time you sign a free agent, there is always risk, and we had our doctors take a look at him and we were comfortable enough to go ahead and move forward with it," Amaro said.
Torres said that as many as six other clubs remained interested in his client before he finally signed with the Phillies.
Amaro said the Phillies view Gonzalez as a second or third starter.
"He's got great stuff," the general manager said. "It just all depends on how effective he becomes at the major-league level. He actually has a variety of pitches - fastball, cutter, slider, curveball, change-up, split - so . . . we just have to find out what ones work for him."
Gonzalez has not pitched a lot competitively in the last two years. He was banned from pitching in Cuba after a failed defection in January 2012 and then successfully defected in February of this year. The Phillies saw him pitch several times in Mexico.
Although the deal wasn't close to initial reports, it was still the most lucrative international signing in Phillies history, surpassing a $1.2 million deal signed by South Korean pitcher Seung Lee in 2001.