Rangers to sign Cuban outfielder Leonys Martin for $15 million

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Last week the Rangers were said to be close to signing Cuban outfielder Leonys Martin and now Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports that the deal could be finalized as soon as today.

According to Grant the 23-year-old center fielder “is expected to receive a signing bonus in the neighborhood of $15 million” and will also get a spot on the 40-man roster as part of a major-league contract. Despite the MLB deal he’s expected to start out at Single-A or Double-A.

Most everyone seems to agree that Martin is a good prospect, but his star potential draws mixed reviews. Here’s part of a scouting report from John Manuel of Baseball America:

He’s a left-handed hitter whose best tools are his speed and defense. He’s a plus runner at least, being timed in 4.1 seconds to first base from the left side … and showed strong small-ball skills, with the ability to drag bunt for hits and handle the bat on the hit-and-run. He also played center field and showed at least average range.

Is a speed-and-defense center fielder with limited power worth a $15 million signing bonus? I have no idea, but six months ago Manuel speculated that Martin “figures to garner a seven-figure signing bonus.” Now, “seven figures” could have meant $1 million or $9 million, but either way Martin is going to end up with significantly more upfront money than expected when he first defected from Cuba and Julio Borbon should probably start looking over his shoulder.

Athletics and Mariners to begin the 2019 regular season in Tokyo

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Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that the Oakland A’s and the Seattle Mariners will begin the 2019 regular season in Japan, in the Tokyo Dome.

The series will mark the third time that the A’s will begin their season in Japan, first doing it in 2008 against the Red Sox and then again in 2012 against the Mariners.

This is just the latest of Major League Baseball’s moves to expand the the game internationally. In addition to those previous series in Japan, the Dodgers and Diamondbacks opened their season in Australia in 2014 and the Dodgers and Padres will play a series in Mexico City this May. There has likewise been talk of the Mets playing a series in London, though those details have not yet been worked out. Obviously the World Baseball Classic represents the league’s effort to broaden the global scope of the once national pastime.

Get ready for early morning baseball, folks.