Leonys Martin debuts at Double-A after signing with Rangers for $15.5 million

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Leonys Martin finalized a $15.5 million major-league contract with the Rangers last week and the 23-year-old Cuban center fielder made his American debut at Double-A, going 3-for-5 with two doubles and a steal.

Martin’s contract includes an immediate spot on the 40-man roster and most pre-signing scouting reports suggested he was pretty close to being major-league ready, so his thriving at Double-A right away would put even more pressure on the Rangers’ current center fielder, Julio Borbon.

Borbon and Martin are similar players, with speed and defense accounting for much of their value and power potential being the big question mark for both guys, but Borbon’s defense has been shaky dating back to late last season and he’s gotten on base at a measly .324 clip despite a solid .284 batting average.

Borbon injured his hamstring yesterday and may be headed for the disabled list, but rather than turn to Martin already the Rangers seem likely to call up veteran Endy Chavez instead. If they need some help in center field six weeks from now, however, Martin may be the one getting the call.

David Phelps to undergo Tommy John surgery

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Pitcher David Phelps has a torn UCL and will undergo Tommy John surgery, ending his 2018 season, the Mariners announced on Wednesday. Phelps was making brief one-inning stints in the Cactus League as he worked his way back from a procedure to remove a bone spur from his elbow last September. He said he felt the ligament tear on his final pitch against the Angels in his March 17 appearance.

Phelps, 31, was expected to set up for closer Edwin Diaz. The right-hander, between the Marlins and Mariners last season, posted a 3.40 ERA with a 62/26 K/BB ratio in 55 2/3 innings. He and the Mariners avoided arbitration in January, agreeing on a $5.55 million salary for the 2018 campaign. Phelps will become eligible to become a free agent at the end of the season.

As the Mariners noted in their statement, the expected recovery period for Tommy John surgery is 12-15 months, so this very likely cuts into Phelps’ 2019 season as well.