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Rangers emerge as favorites to sign Martinez

Cuban outfielder becomes eligible to sign a contract March 6
MLB.com @Sullivan_Ranger and @mattkellyMLB

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Rangers traded Minor League pitcher Miguel Medrano to the Reds on Wednesday for international bonus pool money.

The transaction comes one day after Major League Baseball declared Cuban outfielder Julio Pablo Martinez a free agent, making him eligible to sign with a team. Martinez, 21, is a 5-foot-10 outfielder who is considered one of the better prospects to recently come out of Cuba because of his mix of speed and power.

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Rangers traded Minor League pitcher Miguel Medrano to the Reds on Wednesday for international bonus pool money.

The transaction comes one day after Major League Baseball declared Cuban outfielder Julio Pablo Martinez a free agent, making him eligible to sign with a team. Martinez, 21, is a 5-foot-10 outfielder who is considered one of the better prospects to recently come out of Cuba because of his mix of speed and power.

The Rangers have emerged as the favorite to sign Martinez, and the team could sign him when the Cuban outfielder becomes eligible to sign a contract March 6, according to sources. The bonus is expected to be in the $2.7 million to $2.8 million range.

The Marlins and Yankees were two other clubs rumored to be competing for Martinez's services, but MLB.com has learned they have dropped out of the running.

"From a philosophical standpoint, we want to gain flexibility and put ourselves in position when opportunity comes available," Rangers farm director Jayce Tingler said.

Medrano, 20, pitched in the Dominican Summer League last year and was 5-1 with a 2.59 ERA in 12 games. He struck out 61 in 59 innings.

Tweet from @JesseSanchezMLB: Sources: The Rangers have emerged as the favorite to sign Julio Pablo Martinez and the team could sign him when the Cuban outfielder becomes eligible to sign a contract March 6. The bonus is expected to be in the $2.7-2.8 million range.

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 2016 and '17 seasons and 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 at Class A Advanced or Double-A once he signs with a team. However, his first assignment would depend on the team he chooses, and if they want to ease him into professional ball stateside.

The Rangers were finalists for Japanese two-way star Shohei Ohtani and had the largest remaining bonus pool to offer him -- most of which has gone unspent since Ohtani elected to sign with the Angels. It's worth noting that 12 teams -- the Astros, Athletics, Braves, Cardinals, Cubs, Dodgers, Giants, Nationals, Padres, Reds, Royals and White Sox -- cannot offer more than $300,000 this signing period after exceeding their bonus pool the past two years.

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger.

Matt Kelly is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @mattkellyMLB.

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