Leslie Anderson Rumors

Rays Release Leslie Anderson

The Rays have released first baseman Leslie Anderson so that he can pursue an opportunity to play in Asia, according to Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times (Twitter link).

Tampa Bay signed Anderson after he defected from Cuba prior to the 2010 season, giving him a four-year deal worth $3.75MM. Anderson's bat never fully took off in the minor leagues, however, and he found himself designated for assignment prior to the 2011 campaign. In 1599 plate appearances at the Triple-A level, the now-31-year-old Anderson owns a .295/.348/.439 batting line.

AL East Links: Guthrie, Bard, Balfour, Rays

Yankees officially announced that they signed Luis Ayala, Bartolo Colon, Freddy Garcia, Warner Madrigal, Ronnie Belliard and Eric Chavez to minor league deals. Here are some notes on the Yanks and the rest of the AL East…

Rays Designate Leslie Anderson For Assignment

The Rays designated Leslie Anderson for assignment to create roster space for Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon, according to Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times (on Twitter). The Rays designated outfielder Justin Ruggiano for assignment in a related move earlier today.

The Rays officially signed Anderson, a Cuban defector, to a four-year, $1.725MM contract in April. At the time, Rays director of international operations Carlos Alfonso said the 28-year-old was appealing “because of his athleticism, and the fact that he can play all three outfield positions, as well as first base.”

Anderson reached Triple-A last year, hitting .302/.359/.442 with 31 extra base hits across three levels. The left-handed hitter split his time between first base and left field.

International Links: Reyes, Molina, Anderson

Links in three very different-sounding accents of Spanish…

  • Jose Reyes has heard the rumors, and he met with Mets GM Sandy Alderson last week to discuss them, the shortstop told Juan Mercado at the Dominican paper El Dia. "[Alderson] assured me that [a trade] wouldn't happen, however, I recognize that this is a business," Reyes said. He added that the Mets picking up his $11MM option for 2011 was a "good sign," but reiterated his hopes for the future, saying, "I've repeated many times that I don't want to leave the Mets, since I feel very comfortable here."
  • Yadier Molina says the Cardinals have approached his elder brother Bengie about backing him up at catcher next season. "They want to get him, but they're waiting for his decision," Yadier told Lester Jimenez at the Puerto Rican daily Primera Hora. The younger Molina said he was confident Bengie could still handle a starting job at 36, and still might seek a contract as such, "but if he's thinking of retirement and wants to take it easy as a backup catcher, then I want him here with me."
  • The Rays' options to replace Carlos Pena and Carl Crawford could extend beyond in-house options Dan Johnson and Desmond Jennings, or free agents such as Edwin Encarnacion. The agent for Leslie Anderson told El Nuevo Herald's Jorge Ebro that the versatile Cuban prospect will be in the mix for both the Ray's outfield and first base openings this spring. After signing a four-year, $3.75MM deal last March, Anderson put up a combined .302/.359/.442 line in 422 PAs across the Rays system, including a .328/.359/.418 showing at Triple-A Durham.

Rays Sign Jose Julio Ruiz

The Rays signed Jose Julio Ruiz to a minor league deal, according to Jorge Ebro of El Nuevo Herald. Ruiz will make $20K per month and the Rays will have the option to sign the Cuban first baseman to a four-year $4MM major league deal on November 15th (all Twitter links). The minor league deal guarantees Ruiz much less than he was seeking last offseason.

Ruiz became a free agent in the fall and immediately attracted interest from multiple teams. In February, his trainer claimed to have received "concrete proposals" worth more than $1MM from three major league clubs. The Blue Jays and Red Sox appeared interested, but reports of disastrous tryouts emerged, teams started backing off and Ruiz changed agents. 

The Rays may have found themselves a bargain and Jorge Arangure Jr. of ESPN.com suggests (via Twitter) that Ruiz could become a candidate to replace Carlos Pena. The Rays signed another Cuban first basemanLeslie Anderson – in March. Anderson, 28, is hitting .266/.310/.418 in high A ball, so he doesn't appear ready to play in the majors.

Rays Announce Leslie Anderson Signing

It's Cuban defector day here at MLBTR, as the Rays officially announced their signing of Leslie Anderson an hour after the Blue Jays made their Adeiny Hechavarria announcement.  Anderson's four-year, $3.75MM agreement was first reported on March 11th.

The press release notes Anderson's athleticism and ability to play all three outfield positions and first base.  When Anderson defected in September, his agent Jaime Torres drew a comparison to Alexei Ramirez.

Latin Links: Liriano, Ruiz, Ramirez, Garcia

News from sources that use subjunctive tenses. Links are in Spanish…

  • Francisco Liriano tells Hoy's Dionisio Soldevila he seriously considered retirement eight months after his elbow ligament replacement surgery in 2006. He also gives perhaps his clearest rejection yet of the idea that he take the John Smoltz route and step into Joe Nathan's slot as closer. "I don't want to be a closer," Liriano says. "I don't know if I'm ready to roll out there three or four times a week." After a dominant winter in the Dominican and a reportedly resurgent fastball this spring, Liriano is currently manager Ron Gardenhire's pick for the fifth spot in the Twins rotation.
  • Two weeks after his acrimonious split from agent Jorge Luis Toca, Cuban prospect Jose Julio Ruiz has surfaced again. Representatives from 22 teams recently watched Ruiz and fellow new Legacy Sports client Yadil Mujica at a staged tryout in the Dominican Republic, writes Jorge Ebro at the Nuevo Herald. The Blue Jays, Red Sox, Rangers, and Rays have all reportedly made offers to the left-handed first baseman this winter, all at around $2MM. The Rays at minimum can likely be crossed off the list of Ruiz's potential suitors after the team signed Leslie Anderson.
  • Rangers prospect Max Ramirez is getting more serious about moving to first, just like Mike Lowell, the player for whom Ramirez was almost traded earlier this winter. "I played a fair amount of first (base) in Venezuela," Ramirez tells Lider en Deportes' Carlos Rodriguez. "I didn't do it as much in the minors, but I've improved and I feel good." Ramirez, who is currently blocked at catcher by Taylor Teagarden and Jarrod Saltalamacchia, has been mentioned as a possible solution to the Rangers' seeming shortage of reserve corner infielders. He played 23 innings at first during a brief 2008 call-up.
  • White Sox fifth starter Freddy Garcia tells Lider's Rodriguez that retirement never crossed his mind after he was released by the Mets last spring after just two starts at Triple A. "They told me one thing and did another," Garcia says. "I came to fight for a spot and they never gave me a chance."
  • Former Twins outfielder Lew Ford has signed with the Oaxaca Warriors of the Mexican League, reports Eduardo Gonzalez Garcia at Noticias Sureste. After a one-year sojourn in Japan, Ford signed with the Reds last August and played for their Triple A Louisville affiliate. He last appeared in the majors in 2007.

Escobar To Decide About 2010 On April 1

The R-word has been swirling around Kelvim Escobar lately, amidst reports that the 33-year-old Mets reliever may need shoulder surgery again after managing just one start in two seasons. Escobar answers some of these concerns in an interview with Rafael Tejera at the Venezuelan paper El Nacional (link in Spanish), telling Tejera, "If I wanted to retire, I would have done it already."

As for the 2010 season, Escobar insists he hasn't given up on it yet, but he will only make his final decision after picking up a ball again. "In the coming weeks, I'll simply work to strengthen my shoulder, and then it will be April 1 when I return to throwing," he says. "If I feel the same pain that day, I'll have to make the decision I have been considering since I was with the Angels: to rest for a full year and recover."

Other links from the Spanish language beat:

  • With Cuban prospect Leslie Anderson's foot now planted in the door to the tune of $3.75MM for four years with the Rays, the question becomes: When and at what position will he play? A source close to the negotiations tells the Nuevo Herald's Jorge Ebro that the Rays want to see the 27-year-old "wearing the uniform as quickly as possible," while Marc Topkin at the St. Petersburg Times notes that Anderson is widely expected to start off in the minors. Neither brings up the subject of positions, although Anderson's agent Jaime Torres tells Topkin that Anderson will head to Rays camp later this month ready to fight for a spot on the big league roster at first base and all three outfield positions.
  • Another high-average hitter from the Cuban Serie Nacional, shortstop Yadil Mujica, has been cleared as a free agent, tweets ESPN's Jorge Arangure Jr. In the same day, Mujica switched agents to Legacy Sports, also the new home of Jose Julio Ruiz. A scouting report on Mujica can be found here.
  • Jesus Guzman tells Lider en Deportes' Carlos Rodriguez that he has received no guarantee of making the Giants' opening day roster, but he has received another sort of guarantee from manager Bruce Bochy: Whatever chance he has will be in the outfield, as opposed to the infield, where Guzman has almost exclusively played in the past. After three brief callups in 2009, the Giants designated the 26-year-old Venezuelan for assignment to make room for Bengie Molina this offseason, then invited him back to spring training. Last season at Triple A Fresno, Guzman put up a .321/.379/.507 line in 500 PA while playing mostly first base.

Rays Sign Leslie Anderson

The Rays signed Cuban first baseman/outfielder Leslie Anderson to a four-year, $3.75MM deal, tweets Jorge Ebro of El Nuevo HeraldESPN's Jorge Arangure Jr. wrote in February that Anderson auditioned for nine clubs, and quoted two scouts who came away unimpressed.  Morgan Campbell of the Toronto Star said half the teams in baseball attended, and called Anderson "a chiselled Adonis of a baseball prospect."  One scouting report on the 27-year-old can be found at the blog Cuban Ball Players.

Anderson defected in September, and in January his agent Jaime Torres compared him to Alexei Ramirez.

Latin Links: Anderson, Cuba, Venezeula

All the noticias de beisbol fit to imprimir

  • Jorge Ebro at Nuevo Herald spoke to Leslie Anderson‘s agent Jaime Torres, who repeated the familiar refrain that Anderson is “about to sign.” Anderson is currently playing for the Tigers of Quintana Roo in the Mexican League, and he has said he is willing to continue playing in Mexico if he doesn’t find the right offer in the majors.
  • In the same article, Ebro outlines how an increasing number of defections is affecting the level of play in the historically prestigious Cuban Serie Nacional. According to his sources, more than 300 players at various levels have left the island in recent years. Kendry Morales and Yunel Escobar tell Ebro that the league has greatly diminished since when they played in it.
  • This season, only the US and the Dominican Republic will have more representation on major league rosters than Venezuela. But more South Americans will be playing stateside soon, now that the Venezuelan Baseball Federation has signed a three-year affiliation with the independent Yuma Scorpions of the Golden Baseball League. According to the press release, the agreement is intended to showcase not only players, but also coaches and trainers to major league organizations.
  • Fresh from being bumped to DH and part-time left fielder duties by Johnny Damon, Carlos Guillen spoke with Carlos Valmore Rodriguez at the Venezuelan newspaper La Lider about his career as a position-hopping “Bedouin of baseball.” He lauds the Venezuelan winter leagues for forcing prospects to become more versatile, and passes along the advice he received from journeyman Stan Javier upon starting out with the Mariners: “Work hard in any position, because you know where you start but not where you end up.”