White Sox, Mariners shopping for offense

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According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, the White Sox and Mariners have been active in early trade talks, with both teams looking for offense.
It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise in either case. The White Sox have gotten lucky with Andruw Jones, but Juan Pierre has struggled in the leadoff spot and Mark Kotsay, who appeared likely to play more than Jones initially, has been a complete void through the first month.
The Mariners went for sentimentality over sense when they re-signed Ken Griffey Jr. over the winter. There was little reason to think he’d be this bad — he’s hit .212/.268/.242 with no homers and five RBI through 66 at-bats — but there were plenty of better choices to fill the DH spot in Seattle. The Milton Bradley-for-Carlos Silva swap, which was universally acclaimed, also couldn’t have worked out any worse.
There aren’t many obvious trade candidates available for either team right now, though. The Royals should be glad to part with Jose Guillen if anyone is willing to take on the remainder of his $12 million salary for this year, but since they are the Royals, there’s no way of telling if that’s really the case. Also, Guillen has played just one game in the field this year, and both the White Sox and Mariners would prefer someone who could play an outfield corner with some regularity.
The Marlins, with Mike Stanton on the way, could make Cody Ross available in a month or so, but only if both Chris Coghlan and Cameron Maybin step up their games. The Orioles should be willing to talk about Luke Scott, since they’re going nowhere and he doesn’t figure into their long-term plans. Jody Gerut is expendable in Milwaukee and is a useful part-time player.
There’s also free agency as an option. Of course, if either team wanted to try Jermaine Dye, the move would be done already. Dye was always open to returning to Chicago, and he listed Seattle as a favored destination last month. Gary Sheffield is another veteran waiting for a call. Plus, there’s the talented-yet-troubled Elijah Dukes still looking for work.

Leonys Martin feared for his life from alleged human traffickers

SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 30: Leonys Martin #12 of the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field on September 30, 2016 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
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Leonys Martin, outfielder for the Seattle Mariners, testified yesterday that he feared for his life after he was smuggled from Cuba by a group of men prosecutors say worked for a sports agent and a baseball trainer currently on trial for human trafficking in Miami.

Martin took the stand at the trial of Bartolo Hernandez and Julio Estrada, who face felony charges. He said that, after getting to Mexico from Cuba, men threatened to take him away. There was a kidnapping attempt against one of the men who had taken him from Cuba as well. Martin said that, eventually, he crossed the U.S.-Mexico border into Texas without any valid papers because his life was in danger and his safety was at risk.

Players like Martin who fled Cuba often hole up in Mexico while waiting to be declared free agents by Major League Baseball. There is pitched competition to sign agreements with the players in question, seeking to obtain promises of a cut of future baseball earnings for their services. Those promises can come under the threat of violence. Eventually, Martin promised to pay Hernandez and Estrada, but ceased paying them later, fomenting a lawsuit from them. In the wake of the suit, the allegations of threats and smuggling arose, leading to this trial.

Martin has been late to Mariners camp as a result of having to testify. He’ll likely report in the next day or so. The trial continues.

Josh Hamilton leaves camp with a tweaked knee

SURPRISE, AZ - FEBRUARY 28:  Josh Hamilton #32 of the Texas Rangers poses during a spring training photo shoot on February 28, 2016 in Surprise, Arizona.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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Josh Hamilton was already a long shot to make the Texas Rangers roster, but his shot got even longer today, as he left camp to have his reconstructed left knee examined after experiencing pain.

As Jeff Wilson reports, Hamilton felt discomfort in the knee during the Rangers’ first full-squad spring training workout yesterday. Hamilton has had 10 knee operations in career. Which is a lot of knee operations in case you were unaware.

You have to wish good luck to Hamilton, but at the same time you have to be realistic. The guy has not played in the major leagues since 2015 and even then he didn’t play well, hitting .253 with eight home runs and 25 RBIs in 50 games. He appeared in one game last year for Double-A Frisco, on April 30. He’ll be paid $24 million this year, mostly by the Angels. One suspects that this will likewise be his last spring training.