Rangers close to signing Cuban outfielder Leonys Martin

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According to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star Telegram the Rangers are close to signing outfielder Leonys Martin, who was declared a free agent last month after defecting from Cuba in 2010.

No word yet on how much the Rangers would be shelling out sign the 23-year-old, but last year John Manuel of Baseball America speculated that Martin “figures to garner a seven-figure signing bonus once he establishes residency and becomes a free agent.”

Here’s an excerpt from Manuel’s scouting report:

He’s a left-handed hitter whose best tools are his speed and defense. He’s a plus runner at least, being timed in 4.1 seconds to first base from the left side … and showed strong small-ball skills, with the ability to drag bunt for hits and handle the bat on the hit-and-run. He also played center field and showed at least average range.

Sounds like an intriguing player, particularly with the Rangers’ current speedy center fielder, Julio Borbon, struggling so much defensively. Wilson writes that Martin would likely start out in the minors, but he’s seemingly not far from being MLB-ready.

Rays moving spring camp due to damage caused by hurricane

Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – The Tampa Bay Rays are relocating their spring base for 2023 due to extensive damage to team training facilities caused by Hurricane Ian.

The Rays have trained since 2009 in Port Charlotte, Florida, about 90 minutes south of St. Petersburg, and intend to explore several options before making a decision on where to hold spring training and play Grapefruit League games when camp opens.

The team and Charlotte County released a joint statement Thursday, saying damage to Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte can’t be repaired in time to host games this winter.

“Charlotte County supports the Rays efforts to secure alternative accommodations for 2023 spring training,” the statement said.

“We are all disappointed for the residents of Charlotte County and the fans there. The community is in the thoughts and hearts of the Rays, and the team will continue to support recovery efforts,” the statement added. “The Rays and Charlotte County intend to develop a restoration plan for Charlotte Sports Park in the coming weeks.”