The Rangers are now considered the favorite in the pursuit of Cuban prospect Julio Pablo Martinez, according to MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez (via Twitter). Martinez is not technically eligible to put pen to paper until March 6th, but it seems the Texas organization is working to line up a deal once he can formally sign.
Martinez, 21, will likely command a $2.7MM to $2.8MM bonus, according to the report. That’s a far sight shy of what similarly situated young players have earned in recent years, though that’s a reflection of newly restrictive signing rules (which place a hard cap on total bonus spending) rather than Martinez’s promise as a player.
The Rangers did not seem to have quite that much pool availability when last we checked, though it is always difficult to keep close tabs on international expenditures. Evidently, the Texas organization had more to work with than we realized, and also acquired an additional $350K just days ago, immediately sparking indications that the move was designed to facilitate the acquisition of Martinez.
Given that we’re still weeks away from Martinez even being able to sign, it seems reasonable to expect that we’ll have to wait to learn of his destination with any real certainty. But from the tenor of tonight’s report and the recent swap, all signs are that Texas is indeed set to land Martinez. That said, the Yankees and Marlins have also been closely tied to the talented youngster (by Ben Badler of Baseball America). He may be a year or two away from the majors, but that’s closer than most amateurs. And Martinez is said to possess an enticing blend of speed and power.