16-year-old Cuban outfielder Lazaro Armenteros is getting a lot of attention these days, but a countryman twice his age is also busy making his case for a contract with an MLB team.
FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports that 13 teams attended the showcase for Cuban outfielder Alexei Bell today in Mexicali, Mexico. He was able to identify all of the clubs in attendance:
Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com has more details on the three-hour showcase, as Bell slugged 15 home runs during batting practice and against live pitching. He also made throws from right field and did some running. He could begin private workouts for teams in Florida and Arizona soon, but he’ll need to be approved for a visitor visa first.
Listed at 5-foot-7 and 187 pounds on Baseball Reference, the 32-year-old Bell batted .319/.417/.547 over 14 seasons in Cuba’s Serie Nacional. He spent last season with Capitales of Quebec in the Canadian-American Association while batting .317/.363/.424 over 59 games. It was reported last month that Bell left Cuba legally to seek an opportunity in MLB. While he might not be the player he was a few years ago, he’s still drawing plenty of interest.
As opposed to Armenteros, Bell is not subject to MLB’s international bonus pool limits.
Mets outfielder Curtis Granderson tore a ligament in his left thumb on a slide into second base during the NLCS against the Cubs. You wouldn’t know it by his production during the World Series against the Royals, as he slugged three home runs while posting a 1.060 OPS. The injury required surgery after the Mets lost the series in five games, but upon reporting to Mets camp today, Granderson told Marc Carig of Newsday that he’s fully recovered and began hitting as normal in January.
While Yoenis Cespedes got most of the attention for helping reshape the offense after the trade deadline last season, Granderson was the team’s most valuable position player. Serving as the regular leadoff hitter and right fielder, he batted .259/.364/.457 with 26 home runs, 70 RBI, 11 stolen bases, and 98 runs scored over 157 games. His .821 OPS was his best since 2011 as a member of the Yankees. The Mets have designs on a return to the World Series, so the big question is whether he can come close to a repeat as he moves into his age-35 season.
As part of his four-year, $60 million contract with New York, Granderson is owed $16 million this season and $15 million in 2017.
Ryan Braun was the Brewers’ regular left fielder from 2008-2013 before making the move to right field two years ago. The decision was made in order to give regular playing time to slugger Khris Davis, who didn’t have a strong enough arm to play right. That’s not an issue now that Davis has been traded to the Athletics, so Brewers general manager David Stearns told Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that the club is considering whether to move Braun back to left while installing Domingo Santana in right field.
“That could be a possibility,” general manager David Stearns said Monday. “We’re still discussing our various options.”
Santana primarily played center field after being acquired from the Astros in the Carlos Gomez deal last July, but he’s best-suited for a corner spot. This is a very different situation than what the Brewers had with Davis, as Santana has the arm (and then some) for right field. Braun is coming off back surgery, so the thought is that a move back to left field could take less of a toll on his body. Stearns and manager Craig Counsell are expected to talk over the situation with Braun before an official decision is made, but it sounds like a win-win.
The real drama in the Brewers’ outfield revolves around who will end up playing center. Rymer Liriano, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Keon Broxton, and Eric Young, Jr. are among the names in the mix as spring training approaches.