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Pirates Sign Cuban Defector Yuslan Herrera

This is unexpected news.

The Pittsburgh Pirates have agreed in principle to a contract with Cuban defector Yuslan Herrera, who will be added to the 40-man roster and likely compete for a spot in the major-league starting rotation next spring.

The Pirates did not make an official announcement Monday, but multiple baseball sources indicated a deal with the right-handed pitcher had been reached.

Here's some more information:

Herrera, 25, has had success in Cuba, with a career 18-7, 3.72 record. The 6-foot-2, 200-pound righthander has shown command of a fringy fastball and what Torres termed an above-average curveball, and one scout liked him a lot. "He's got an above-average split-finger (fastball) and was 88-92," the scout said. "I could see his velocity jumping up to 90-94 once he gets into a system and he could very easily be a No. 4 starter in the big leagues."

I can't find out much about Herrera right now, so I have no idea whether this is a good idea for the Pirates or not. I'm very happy to see them exploring this market, however - the Pirates have neglected international talent for so long that I'm pleasantly shocked by this announcement. Part of the Pirates' interest probably has to do with the potential for Herrera to contribute to the big league team soon. Most international signees take a long time to develop. So this signing may not mean that the Pirates have suddenly decided to start taking other international markets seriously. Here's hoping I'm wrong about that. In the meantime, though, this is an encouraging move, even if Herrera doesn't end up working out.