The Orioles have been pretty quiet at this week’s Winter Meetings in Orlando, but it sounds like that could change soon.
According to CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman, the Orioles have made offers to outfielder Nelson Cruz and closer Grant Balfour. No word on the specifics, but the thought is that they are willing to offer Cruz something similar to Curtis Granderson’s four-year, $60 million deal with the Mets or even go above it if need be. The Orioles would have to give up their first-round pick (No. 17 overall) in order to sign him. As for Balfour, he will almost certainly require a multi-year agreement.
While Heyman writes that Balfour is Baltimore’s first choice to replace the recently-traded Jim Johnson as closer, they are monitoring the market for alternatives. On that note, FOX Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi hears that the club is still in discussions with Joaquin Benoit and John Axford. Former Indians closer Chris Perez is also a possibility.
UPDATE: Eddie A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun hears from a club source that the Orioles have not made an offer to Cruz. That’s the Winter Meetings for you.
UPDATE II: And now we have a second report, this time from Roch Kubatko of MASNSports.com, that the Orioles haven’t made an offer to Cruz. They are said to be looking at other lefty bats.
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.