Quick Hits: Cuban Smuggling, Martin, Jackson, Howard, Castillo

While news of Cuban ballplayer Rusney Castillo continues to dominate the news cycle, the human trafficking side of Cuban imports also made headlines. Eliezer Lazo entered a guilty plea in connection to the smuggling of over 1,000 Cubans, including Rangers outfielder Leonys Martin, reports Curt Anderson of the Associated Press. The article covers some of the sordid details involved in this human trafficking case.

  • In related news, a lawsuit brought against Martin by a Mexican baseball academy associated with Lazo will likely be dropped as a result of the criminal case. The Estrellas baseball academy alleged that Martin agreed to pay them up to 35% of his major league contract, but Martin only paid $1.2MM of his $15.5MM deal.
  • The Braves and Cubs discussed a proposal that would have sent Edwin Jackson to Atlanta in return for B.J. Upton, writes Bob Nightengale of USA Today Sports. The deal would have served as a straight swap of albatross contracts. The sides apparently weren’t close to finalizing a trade but could re-open talks over the offseason. It appears this was probably the rumored trade first reported on August 9.
  • In what is likely to become an ongoing “will they, won’t they” story, David Murphy of the Philadelphia Inquirer speculates about moving on from Ryan Howard. The club currently has Darin Ruf taking the occasional start in left field while Howard blocks his playing time at first base. Philadelphia seemingly needs to decide which of three players possess the higher upside – Howard, Ruf, or left fielder Domonic Brown. Given Howard’s age, 34, and rapidly diminishing numbers – he had a .678 OPS before today’s home run – it’s fair to wonder if Howard should be the odd man out. Corner infield prospect Maikel Franco could also figure in the mix before long.
  • We at MLBTR seek to find answers for the pressing questions such as “Does Rusney Castillo know Jay-Z?” Castillo, who is represented by Jay-Z’s Roc Nation Sports and Brodie Van Wagonen of CAA, does indeed know the mogul, according to the Boston Herald’s Scott Lauber.

26 Responses to Quick Hits: Cuban Smuggling, Martin, Jackson, Howard, Castillo Leave a Reply

  1. Kevin Kim 11 months ago

    Glad Rusney knows his own agent. Might be a slight problem if he didn’t.

  2. Terry 11 months ago

    With Atlantas track record of turning pitchers around I wouldn’t have minded seeing Edwin Jackson in Atlanta. Getting rid of BJs contract is crucial imo.

    • Bary Tone 11 months ago

      The Cubs have done just as well…

    • What track record do they have turning starters around? Harang doesn’t count. They didn’t fix him, he’s an all over the place pitcher and that’s always been the case.

      • Terry 11 months ago

        Go back the last 15-20 years and look. There are so many that had a solid 1-3 years pitching for Atlanta. why wouldn’t harang count? He is having a very good year. Gavin Floyd was on track of a great year til his freak injury. Those are 2 pitchers just this season.

        • Why would Harang count? Having a very good year doesn’t mean that the Braves fixed him. If he was pitching unusually better, that’s one thing. But his performance is pretty par for the course for his career.

          If you think Atlanta deserves praise for Floyd’s New York minute or that 15-20 years ago matters, then I don’t know what to say. I checked back to 2010 and found no real pitching reclamation projects to support your case.

        • Bary Tone 11 months ago

          Just a side note….how many Atlanta pitcher are having/have had Tommy John Surgery under McDowell/Gonzalez? It seems incredibly high.

  3. jb226 11 months ago

    No part of the deal makes any sense for the Cubs.

    1. Upton is owed more money. Like, a lot more money. Unless the Braves were going to kick in about $40MM, the Cubs would get fleeced. And what are the odds the Braves were going to go anywhere near that?

    2. The Cubs’ best prospects are all position players. Why on Earth would they take on a terrible player signed for four more years to clog up a spot in the outfield?

    I suppose it’s possible that “discuss[ing] the proposal” went something like “hey Theo, want to swap Jackson for Upton?” “Justin?” “BJ.” “*click*” I can’t imagine it went much beyond that.

    • Bary Tone 11 months ago

      The writers opinion that Jackson’s contract is “albatross” is quite the hyperbole… He’s owed about 22 million over the next two years…it would make more sense to just cut him.

      BJ has three more years at close to $48 million…

    • He also could clog up a bench spot, which would affect their ability to play musical chairs with their up and coming talent. Which might not be a big problem right now, but it certainly would be over the course of the next four years.

  4. citizen 11 months ago

    Jackson is terrible, worth only as a long reliever. I’m glad the braves didn’t pull the trigger on this one.

    • Bob George 11 months ago

      Upton has far less value and makes more than twice as much as Jackson. Jackson is capable, in theory, of turning it around and pitching like he did in 2013, which is still only an overpriced 5th starter, but at least that’s something. Upton looks like he’s done.

      • escapingNihilism 11 months ago

        Jackson has way underpitched his peripherals as a Cub. at some point that stops being an excuse, but it does provide a ray of hope.

  5. bigbadjohnny 11 months ago

    Jackson is owe $22 million for the next two seasons
    Upton is owe $36 million for the next three seasons
    If I was Theo, I would take the gamble with one exception……Braves need to add a #11 – #20 prospect from their system to that trade to happen with that much money owe to Upton.

    • Pennsy 11 months ago

      This was probably the real sticking point. Theo wanting to eat BJ’s contract with a prospect coming with him to make it worthwhile. But Atlanta is probably too stubborn to cut a deal like that, just look how long they held onto Uggla just because, well, they might as well so long as they paying him!

  6. Jon 11 months ago

    It is my guess that the Braves have a problem with their hitting coach since players like BJ Upton and Dan Uggla stopped hitting well while Greg Walker was hired to be the hitting coach. Walker insists on the home run ball while Turner Field is more a pitcher’s park with an above average favor towards pitchers. Hire more of a small ball hitting coach and BJ Upton could be half the player he used to be. My guess is that he could be frustrated and impatient and therefore does not kick out of slumps to be productive. Atlanta has may not have enough room in the rotation. Edwin Jackson would not be an upgrade over Harang. BJ Upton may be too stressed in Atlanta to play well.

    • Christopher Rioux 11 months ago

      The problem is in acquiring players on the wrong side of their career who profile as exactly that type of hitter. Anybody who thought Uggla or Upton was anything other than exactly what they’ve shown to be just hasn’t been paying attention.

      The blame goes to Wren first for spending all of that money on hot garbage, and on Fredi second for running those guys out there in high-leverage spots in the batting order where they do the maximum amount of damage to the team.

      BJ Upton and Dan Uggla have (had?) one offensive skill: swinging hard in case they hit it. I’m not sure what any hitting coach could’ve done differently.

    • Terry 11 months ago

      Bj has a pretty noticeable hitch in his swing. Why they haven’t corrected it is beyond me? Maybe BJ is being stubborn, maybe they haven’t noticed it(which is unlikely because I’ve watched 2 national telecasts and each time they pointed it out). Regardless if the braves can find a taker for that contract you do it!

  7. Jayden Sanders 11 months ago


  8. kungfucampby 11 months ago

    MLB has a huge problem with smuggling out of Cuba. Read up on the money Puig had to pay to get here, it’s heartbreaking.

  9. jury_rigger 11 months ago

    I NEVER thought I’d say this, but I’d rather have Upton

  10. Matt Musal 11 months ago

    BJ Upton, I knew when he left my Rays that his career would nose dive.

  11. Jackson isn’t really an albatross. Terrible contract, yes. But an albatross needs to both hinder the team and provide no value whatsoever. Jackson throws innings. They aren’t good innings for the most part, but there’s value in that.

    Upton’s only value is as a cheerleader to his brother. Which probably isn’t even going so well on the Braves. There’d probably be a grievance filed if he did so while on the Cubs.

    • BlueCatuli 11 months ago

      He’s not even racking up innings this year. Only at 139 IP so far in 26 GS. Good for about 5 1/3 innings per start.

    • Jamesonhendry 11 months ago

      BJ could hit well in Wrigley if the wind is blowing out and they could put him further down the order. Put him in the 7-8 hole where they don’t have to be real productive. Maybe the kid gets hot and he still has some wheels. Would add that base stealing threat. All of the cubs like striking out. The team as a whole needs serious batting work. Baez and Alcantra are at least working it out. A veteran in Upton with the young guys could be good. Manny has helped the hitters in A ball why not bring him up to the Majors to continue working with these guys.

  12. tomymogo 11 months ago

    I like it for ATL. BJ +15 mill for Edwin Jackson. Roger Mcdowell can turn him around, he could be the 5th starter, or a reliever.

    Financially this is what it means:
    – Braves take Jackson’s 22 million for the next 2 years and give the Cubs 15 mill.
    – Cubs take BJ’s contract which is now werth 31 million for the next 3 years.

    Essentially the cubs would be paying BJ 3 million per year, that’s not unreasonable

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