The Rangers traded Minor League pitcher Domingo Pena to the Royals on Wednesday for $250,000 in international bonus pool money.The move would appear to further embolden Texas' chase of talented Cuban outfield prospect Julio Pablo Martinez. Sources told MLB.com last week that the Rangers had emerged as the favorite to
The Rangers traded Minor League pitcher Domingo Pena to the Royals on Wednesday for $250,000 in international bonus pool money.
The move would appear to further embolden Texas' chase of talented Cuban outfield prospect Julio Pablo Martinez. Sources told MLB.com last week that the Rangers had emerged as the favorite to sign the 21-year old Martinez, a 5-foot-10 outfielder who is considered one of the best prospects to recently come out of Cuba because of his mix of speed and power.
Martinez is not eligible to sign a contract until Tuesday, and his signing bonus is expected to land between $2.7 million to $2.8 million.
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Rangers farm director Jayce Tingler told MLB.com last week that the club would like to "gain flexibility to put ourselves in position when opportunity comes available."
Texas' recent moves appear to have given it that flexibility. The Rangers also traded Minor League pitcher Miguel Medrano to the Reds one week ago to boost their international bonus pool, and the deal with the Royals should strengthen their position further.
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The Rangers were finalists for Japanese two-way star Shohei Ohtani, and Texas had the largest remaining bonus pool to offer him -- most of which has gone unspent since Ohtani elected to sign with the Angels.
Martinez earned spots on Cuba's 18-and-under team in 2014 and '15. More recently, Martinez played in Cuba's Serie Nacional during the '16 and '17 seasons, and he posted a .333/.469/.498 slash line with six home runs and 24 stolen bases in 61 games. He is considered to have the talent to start his Minor League career as high as Double-A once he signs with a team. However, his first assignment would depend on the club he chooses, and if they want to ease him into pro ball stateside.
Pena, 19, has logged three seasons in the Dominican Summer League and also pitched in 2017 Arizona Fall League action. The righty has gone 6-7 with a 4.20 ERA in 32 total appearances, striking out 111 batters while yielding 127 hits across 122 innings.
Matt Kelly is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @mattkellyMLB.