Three Cuban defectors now up for grabs

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ESPN’s Jorge Arangure reports that Cuban defectors RHP Yadel Marti, OF Yasser Gomez, and RHP Juan Yasser Serrano have been declared free agents and are now eligible to sign.
That’s according to their agent, Jaime Torres. The three players all defected at the end of last year. Marti, who is listed as 25, will likely be the most sought after of the three. He pitched 12 2/3 scoreless innings and went 2-0 in the 2006 World Baseball Classic. While he lacks an above average fastball, his arsenal might make him a quality middle-of-the-rotation starter anyway. If he signs quickly and shows that he’s in shape, he could find himself on a major league roster, perhaps as a reliever, in September.
Gomez, 28, could also contribute soon, but he’s probably going to prove to be a reserve outfielder. Serrano has a poor track record and likely will have to settle for a minor league contract.

Will Middlebrooks carted off field with injury

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Phillies third baseman Will Middlebrooks suffered a serious injury during Saturday’s Grapefruit League contest against the Orioles. The infielder was chasing down a pop fly in the eighth inning when he ran into left fielder Andrew Pullin, who inadvertently trapped Middlebrooks’ ankle under his leg. Middlebrooks was unable to put weight on his leg following the collision and was carted off the field and taken to a local hospital for X-rays.

Per MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki, not much is known yet about the severity of the ankle injury or the recovery time it will require, though it appears serious enough to set Middlebrooks back considerably as he seeks a backup/bench role with the team this spring.

The 29-year-old is currently seeking another opportunity to extend his six-year major-league career in 2018. He’s coming off of two down years with the Brewers and Rangers, during which he slashed a cumulative .169/.229/.262 with four extra bases through 70 plate appearances.