MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers announced Wednesday that they had reached a Minor League deal with free agent right-hander Alfredo Figaro, who was set to return to the U.S. after two years pitching in Japan.
One problem: He was not a free agent in the first place.
The Brewers subsequently confirmed through Major League Baseball that Figaro was under reserve by the Orix Buffaloes, a fact Figaro and his agent had overlooked. So the agreement with the Brewers, which included an invitation to Milwaukee's Major League Spring Training camp, was in limbo.
"I have reached out to the Orix team and advised them that it was not our intent to violate their reservation rights, and if they intend to retain Figaro, we will step aside," Brewers assistant general manager Gord Ash said in an email.
The Brewers do not intend to purchase Figaro's rights from his Japanese club.
If the Buffaloes let him go, Figaro, 28, would raise to four the number of non-roster pitchers signed to compete for a job on a Brewers team in the process of renovating its pitching staff.
Before his two-year stint with Orix, Figaro appeared in 13 Major League games with Detroit, including four starts, in 2009 and 2010, posting a 6.54 ERA with 21 strikeouts and 18 walks in 31 2/3 innings. According to FanGraphs.com, Figaro averaged 92.4 mph on his fastball in those limited appearances and also threw a slider, changeup and occasional curveball.
He spent six seasons in the Tigers' organization (2005-10) after beginning his career in the Dodgers' farm system in 2004. Figaro signed in Japan after going 10-6 with a 4.14 ERA in 23 starts at Triple-A Toledo in 2010. In Japan, he was 8-11 with a 3.31 ERA in 35 games, 31 starts, and struck out 127 batters against 55 walks.
The Brewers recently scouted Figaro in the Dominican Winter League, where he had a 2.63 ERA in three starts and three relief appearances for Licey. He is a teammate of Brewers pitching prospect Ariel Pena, and the team is managed by Brewers Triple-A manager Mike Guerrero, who recommended Figaro to Milwaukee officials.
The Brewers' other non-roster invitees include right-handers Jairo Asencio and Darren Byrd, left-hander Travis Webb, catchers Dayton Buller and Blake Lalli, and infielders Hector Gomez and Donnie Murphy.