Yasiel Balaguer Rumors

Cubs Sign Yasiel Balaguert And Carlos Martinez

The Cubs have signed Cuban prospects Yasiel Balaguert and Carlos Martinez, reports Baseball America's Ben Badler. Both players are represented by Jaime Torres.

Balaguert, 19 in January, is said to have "modest tools" and a "long, uppercut swing from the right side and an aggressive, pull-oriented approach that leaves him susceptible to secondary stuff." Although he's played center, it's likely that he'll be relegated to left field down the line. The Marlins had interest in signing him earlier this offseason.

Martinez, 20, is a right-handed pitcher who has worked mostly out of the bullpen according to Badler. He has a "fastball that parks in the low 90s" and an "average curveball but it often gets slurvy, while his changeup is also a work in progress with occasional fade."

Marlins Rumors: Wilson, Reyes, Buehrle, Balaguer

Here are some links from Miami, on the day that Robb Nen celebrates his 43rd birthday. Nen still holds the Marlins' franchise record with 108 saves…

  • "They rolled out the red carpet. They seem to have a plan and made it very clear they'd like [C.J. Wilson] to be a part of it," said Bob Garber, Wilson's agent, to Joe Capozzi of The Palm Beach Post. The Marlins hosted the lefty at their new ballpark today. Garber wouldn't say if the team made an offer, but did say his client will "probably" make a decision during the winter meetings next week.
  • The sentiment is that Albert Pujols will return to the Cardinals, but Capozzi says the Marlins still hope to sign Jose Reyes and either Wilson or Mark Buehrle. It's also possible they'll try to add both starters.
  • The Marlins have interest in 18-year-old Cuban outfielder Yasiel Balaguer, reports Jorge Ebro of El Nuevo Herald (on Twitter). They will scout him this Wednesday in the Dominican Republic. Last year we heard about his "explosive speed and throwing arm."

Spanish Links: Garcia, Belaguer, Rangers

Links in Spanish as the 2011 Caribbean Series inches closer…

  • The White Sox may be considering Freddy Garcia, but Garcia had a different team in his sights when he spoke yesterday with Israel Pacheco Velásquez from the Venezuelan paper Meridiano. "My preference is to be with the New York Yankees, and it's not unreasonable to have that in mind, because I've demonstrated that I can be useful," Garcia said. "A team like New York would be ideal for my age, [as would ] playing in a successful, media-heavy, demanding division. Without doubt it would be an inspiration." Garcia's only previous sojourn to New York came in January 2009, when he signed with the Mets, only to be released in April after a disastrous spring. Garcia insists the team simply never gave him a chance, but his successful 2010 campaign should guarantee a longer leash. Garcia said he plans to sign soon, no matter the team.
  • The Marlins have had discussions internally about signing Cuban outfielder Yasiel Balaguer, according to MLB.com's Joe Frisaro. The 18-year-old has worked out for the Cubs and had a recent tryout for the Mariners rained out, reported Michael Miller at the Miami New Times yesterday. However, lest we get ahead of ourselves, Balaguer's agent Carlos Perez at Miami Sports Consulting informed El Nuevo Herald's Jorge Ebro that Balaguer has yet to be unblocked by the State Department after defecting in November.
  • The high percentage of Latino players on the Rangers' roster helps the team to maximize on the potential of its prosects, general manager Jon Daniels told Julio E. Castro at the Dominican paper El Caribe. "[Latino players] are the ones that are in charge of advising our prospects, especially those from the Dominican Republic," Daniels said. "Thanks to them, we were able to advance to the World Series last season, and this year, they're key to our goals once again." The Rangers' current 40-man roster includes eight Latino players, down from 12 on last season's roster. Vladimir Guerrero noted last year that the Latino "heart and soul" of the team and its Spanish-friendly clubhouse were key attractions to him as a free agent.

Latin Links: Tejada, Uribe, Feliz, Cuban Players

Links from Spanish-language news sources…

  • Sources close to Miguel Tejada and Juan Uribe said the infielders will wait and see what kind of contract Derek Jeter signs before committing to anything on their own, according to ESPN Deportes' Enrique Rojas. Neither player is aspiring to Jeter-like money, Rojas writes, but they think Jeter will "establish the market value of veteran shortstops" and give their own respective values a boost. The Cardinals are supposedly interested in both players.
  • Neftali Feliz told Jose Caceres of Hoy he's heard rumors about the Rangers planning to move him to the rotation, but on the team's end, "Nobody has said anything to me." SI's Jon Heyman tweeted earlier today that the team would consider the move if they can't sign Cliff Lee.
  • Victor Mesa, a former Cuban National Team manager and one of the all-time greats of Cuban baseball, told the official government newspaper Trabajadores that the time has finally come for those in power to allow Cuban players to sign with foreign teams, conveys Diario de Cuba. "I think there could be incorporation [into foreign teams], so that they could spend eight years playing in our National Series and [sign] with our involvement, not independently," Mesa said. The most recent prominent player to flee the country is a speedy teenaged outfielder in the mold of Mesa himself: 17-year-old centerfielder Yasiel Balaguer, who arrived in Nicaragua a few days ago.