The market for top Cuban free agent Julio Pablo Martinez has begun to take shape, according to Ben Badler of Baseball America. Martinez has yet to receive signing clearance, but Badler notes it’s anticipated he will be officially named a free agent before the conclusion of the current July 2nd period.
If Martinez does indeed become eligible to sign before June 15th, he’ll have the open of signing either in the current or the ensuing period. That will help open up his options a bit.
Of the three teams that Badler tabs the leaders, one — the Rangers — might utilize its 2017-18 pool money to make a deal with Martinez. (As Badler explains, Texas will need to use or lose its remaining spending availability, which at last glance sat at about $3.53MM.) The others — the Yankees and Marlins — would almost certainly view Martinez as a major part of the 2018-19 signing class.
Martinez, 21, is considered one of the best young talents from his baseball-loving home nation. Badler provides all the necessary details about his profile in the above link. In brief, Martinez is a fleet-footed center fielder with some pop. Notwithstanding an eye-popping 30:52 K/BB ratio in his last 264 plate appearances in Cuba’s top league, Martinez is said to possess more palatable than great plate discipline abilities.
All said, Martinez seems to be a legitimately interesting prospect asset. Unlike many of the more youthful Latin American players that sign as bonus-limited international amateurs, he may actually not be that far off from the majors. Of course, he’ll still need to refine his skills and prove he’s worthy of a crack at the game’s highest level. Regardless, Martinez ought to represent an intriguing new addition for whatever organization signs him.