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Yoenis Cespedes, Jose Abreu named as witnesses in a human trafficking case


Back in February and April we wrote about a criminal case brought against sports agents Bartolo Hernandez and Julio Estrada, accusing them of human trafficking and conspiracy. They were said to have taken $15 million in exchange for smuggling baseball players out of Cuba.

Hernandz and Estrada are slated to go on trial in a federal courtroom in Miami in early January. Two baseball players have been placed on the witness list: free agent Yoenis Cespedes, most recently of the New York Mets and Jose Abreu of the Chicago White Sox. Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and variousl MLB executives are named as possible witnesses as well. Cespedes and Abreu are not accused of wrongdoing.

The movement of players from Cuba to the United States to gain their freedom and earn their fortune is generally a good one. But many of them had to travel a very dark path in order to get here. This trial will no doubt shine some light on that path.

Report: Martinez, Nationals agree to contract extension

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WASHINGTON — Manager Dave Martinez and the Washington Nationals have agreed to work out a contract extension that will keep him in charge of the club beyond next season, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.

The person confirmed the news to The Associated Press on Friday on condition of anonymity because no official announcement had been made.

Martinez led the Nationals to the franchise’s first World Series championship in 2019, his second season as the team’s skipper.

When he initially was hired, Martinez signed a three-year deal with a club option for 2021 that had not yet been picked up by the Nationals.

After a title defense slowed by injuries and inconsistency during a 60-game season delayed and shortened by the coronavirus pandemic, Washington was 23-34 and last in the NL East before facing the New York Mets on Friday night.

It’s the second game of a season-ending four-game series at Nationals Park.

Martinez was sporting his World Series ring on his right hand when he spoke to reporters via a video chat before word emerged Friday afternoon of a change to his contract.

“The coaching staff and myself decided to wear it for the last week of the season, so we’ve been wearing it this whole week. It’s kind of cool,” Martinez said about his ring. “Come Sunday, it goes off and goes back in its little shiny box. But it’s kind of nice to look down and look at it.”

Asked earlier in the week whether he would like his up-in-the-air contract status resolved before the season ends, Martinez said his agent and Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo had been discussing the matter.

“I love it here. I don’t see myself going anywhere else,” Martinez said then. “I appreciate the family. I appreciate this organization. We’ve built a special relationship here, so I hope I get a chance to stay for many, many years.”

Then he paused for five seconds before adding: “The sooner, the better, though.”