There was some question as to whether they’d get involved in big free agent game hunting, but according to Ken Rosenthal they are: the Cubs are pursuing both Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols. Well, either/or. They wouldn’t sign both of them because that would be silly.
I think the why of it is more interesting than the mere fact of it: Rosenthal says the Cubs are worried that the changes to the draft in the new collective bargaining agreement — caps on bonuses and heavy penalties for exceeding them — are going to make it harder to build through the draft. That, combined with the fact that teams lock up elite sluggers way earlier now than they used to means that such beasts will be hard to come by going forward.
Such a thing makes sure things more desirable and, while there is a question as to the appropriate length of a Pujols or Fielder deal, there is little question that for the next few years, each will continue to be an elite slugger.
As for the Cubs, Rosenthal says that, despite the age difference, they’re somewhat more interested in Pujols because of his defense and conditioning and whatnot. Whether they actually step up to join the Cardinals and Marlins in bidding on El Hombre is an open question, however.
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 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.