Jury selection is underway today in Miami federal courtroom in the case of Bartolo Hernandez and Julio Estrada, sports agents charged with illegally smuggling baseball players from Cuba to the United States. The two are accused of taking as much as $15 million from players, who were placed under duress, sent on dangerous and surreptitious boat voyages, placing them in danger and who were, allegedly, subjected to threats of violence before agreeing to hand over millions to the agents.
Three baseball players have been placed on the witness list: Yoenis Cespedes of the New York Mets, Jose Abreu of the Chicago White Sox and Adeiny Hechevarria of the Miami Marlins. Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and various MLB executives are named as possible witnesses as well. Neither Cespedes, Abreu nor Hechevarria are not accused of wrongdoing.
Potential jurors will be questioned beginning Monday in the case of Bartolo Hernandez and Julio Estrada, both of whom have pleaded not guilty. Opening statements are expected Wednesday.
Craig Mish of SiriusXM reports that the Brewers have put together a trade offer for Marlins outfielder Christian Yelich. He describes the club’s interest in Yelich as “strong,” and notes that other teams remain in the mix.
Yelich’s relationship with the Marlins was recently described by his agent as “irretrievably broken” following the trades of Giancarlo Stanton, Marcell Ozuna, and Dee Gordon. His agent said Yelich “needs to get on with his career where he’s got a chance to win.” Understandably, teams have been calling the Marlins asking about him.
The 26-year-old hit .282/.369/.439 with 18 home runs, 81 RBI, 100 runs scored, and 16 stolen bases in 695 plate appearances last season. He’s in the fourth year of a seven-year, $49.57 million contract of which $44.5 million remains. Given how slow the free agent market has been this offseason, it’s difficult to say exactly what he would get if he were to hit the open market, but it is safe to say that his current contract is very much a bargain for his team, which only makes him even more attractive to inquiring teams.
The Brewers are an interesting team to get involved in the Yelich sweepstakes. Their outfield already has three capable players in Ryan Braun, Domingo Santana, and Keon Broxton. Yelich would still be an upgrade, but the Brewers’ resources may be better spent in other areas like the starting rotation.
Given Yelich’s displeasure and Jeter’s insistence on stripping the Marlins bare — including, potentially, the iconic home run sculpture — it wouldn’t be surprising at all to see a trade happen.