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Report: Dodgers close to minor league deal with Jose Miguel Fernandez

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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.

Video: J.D. Martinez hits league-tying 23rd home run

Seattle Mariners v Boston Red Sox
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The Red Sox and Mariners left nothing on the table Friday night, going head-to-head in a series opener that eventually ended 14-10 in the Sox’ favor. Led by Steven Wright and Wade LeBlanc — neither of whom made it past the fifth inning — the teams combined for 34 hits and four home runs, including two moonshots from Seattle’s Nelson Cruz and a five-run rally that gave Boston the edge in the seventh.

In the sixth inning, however, the Red Sox were still scrambling to make up a four-run deficit. Left fielder J.D. Martinez cut it in half with one swing, pouncing on an 89.5-mph fastball from Seattle right-hander Nick Vincent and posting it to dead center field for a two-run shot.

The 427-foot blast was Martinez’s 23rd of the season, tying Mike Trout for the most home runs in the league this year. While he still has a ways to go before eclipsing the career-best 45-HR mark he set in 2017, he’s off to a strong start this season: Entering Friday’s game, the 30-year-old slugger was batting .315/.386/.623 with a 1.009 OPS and AL-leading 55 RBI in 308 PA. He finished Friday’s game 4-for-5 with five RBI, just one triple shy of hitting for the cycle.

Heading into the All-Star Break, both Martinez and Trout still have some competition for the home run title. Jose Ramirez is sitting at 22 homers, while Nelson Cruz and Khris Davis are tied at 20 apiece.