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.
A report from the Baltimore Sun’s Dan Connolly suggests that free agent catcher Welington Castillo currently tops the Orioles’ list of potential backstop targets for the 2017 season. With Matt Wieters on the market, the Orioles lack a suitable platoon partner for Caleb Joseph behind the dish, and Connolly adds that the club has been discussing a multi-year deal with Castillo’s representatives since the Winter Meetings.
Castillo batted .264/.322/.423 with the Diamondbacks in 2016, racking up 14 home runs and driving in a career-high 68 RBI in 457 PA. His bat provides much of his upside, and Connolly quoted an anonymous National League scout who believes that the 29-year-old’s defensive profile has fallen short of his potential in recent years.
For better or worse, both the Orioles and Castillo appear far from locking in a deal for 2017. Both the Rays and Braves have expressed interest in the veteran catcher during the past week, while the Orioles are reportedly considering Wieters, Nick Hundley and Chris Iannetta as alternatives behind the plate.
The Phillies reportedly signed veteran outfielder Daniel Nava to a minor league contract, according to Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Nava began the season on a one-year contract with the Angels, during which he slashed .235/.309/.303 through 136 PA in the first half of 2016. He was flipped to the Royals in late August for a player to be named later and saw the remainder of his year go down the drain on an .091 average through 12 PA in Anaheim. After getting the boot from the Angels’ 40-man roster in November, the 33-year-old outfielder elected free agency.
Nava is expected to compete for a bench role on the Phillies’ roster in the spring. As it currently stands, the club’s projected 2017 outfield features Howie Kendrick and Odubel Herrera, with precious little depth behind them. Nava’s bat is underwhelming, but at the very least he offers the Phillies a warm body in left field and a potential platoon partner for one of their younger options, a la Tyler Goeddel or Roman Quinn.