Cuban infielder Jose Miguel Fernandez is reportedly nearing a minor league deal with the Dodgers, according to MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez. The 28-year-old was granted free agency in April 2016 after defecting from Cuba in December 2015.
Fernandez played for the Matanzas of La Serie Nacional from 2007 – 2014, slashing .319/.403/.423 with 37 home runs and an .826 OPS while filling in at second base. He was suspended in October 2014 after his first unsuccessful attempt to defect from Cuba, and did not appear in Cuban or international competition in 2015 as a result. Despite his hiatus from professional ball, his high contact rate and exemplary plate discipline drew considerable interest upon his arrival in the United States. Bill Plunkett of the OC Register points out that the infielder made a switch from second to third base in winter ball, though it seems more likely that the Dodgers would utilize him as a second base option going forward.
The club has yet to confirm the deal, but Fernandez’s age and tenure with the Matanzas should exclude him from standard international signing bonus limits (via SB Nation’s Eric Stephen). Sanchez reports that the signing bonus for the second baseman is around $200,000.
As you get ready for Memorial Day weekend and whatever it entails for you and yours, take some time to read an excellent article from Mike Bates over at The Hardball Times.
The article is about Eddie Grant. You probably never heard of him. He was a journeyman infielder — often a backup — from 1905 through 1915. If you have heard of him, it was likely not for his baseball exploits, however: it was because he was the first active baseball player to die in combat, killed in the Battle of the Argonne Forest in October 1915.
Michael tells us about more than Grant’s death, however. He provides a great overview of his life and career. And notes that Grant didn’t even have to go to war if he didn’t want to. He was 34, had the chance to coach or manage and had a law degree and the potential to make a lot of money following his baseball career. He volunteered, however, for both patriotic and personal reasons. And it cost him his life.
Must-read stuff indeed. Especially this weekend.
The Cleveland Indians will unveil a Frank Robinson statue at Progressive Field on Saturday.
Robinson’s tenure in Cleveland was not long, but it was historic. On April 8, 1975, he became the first African-American manager in Major League history. He was a player-manager. One of the last ones, in fact. He spent two years in that role and then a third year — a partial year anyway — as a manager only. Robinson would go on to manage the Giants, Orioles and the Expos/Nationals, compiling a career record of 1065-1176 in 16 seasons. He is now a top MLB executive.
Robinson was, of course, a Hall of Fame player as well, lodging 21 seasons for the Reds, Orioles, Dodgers, Angels and Indians. He won two MVP awards and hit for the Triple Crown in 1966. Overall he hit 586 home runs – 10th all time – and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982. For an inner-circle Hall of Famer with that kind of resume he is still, strangely enough, underrated. I guess that happens when your contemporaries are Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Mickey Mantle.
Anyway, congrats to Frank Robinson for yet another well-deserved honor in a career full of them.