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May 04, 2011

Rangers' deal with Cuban defector is official

The Rangers have signed Cuban defector Leonys Martin to a five-year major-league deal worth $15 million, which includes a $5 million signing bonus. The Rangers designated right-hander Ramon Aguero for assignment to clear a spot on the 40-man roster for the outfielder, who will stay in extended spring training until he's ready to be assigned to a minor-league affiliate.

The Rangers are not expecting Martin, 23, to make an impact this year. They are anticipating that he will join a team, likely Double A Frisco, later this month. General manager Jon Daniels said that won't be surprised if Martin finds his way onto the active roster.

There is some rust, though. Martin last played for the Cuban national team in July and August while playing in a tournament in Japan.

He's a left-handed hitter, a right-handed thrower, and a career .314 hitter in the Cuban League. Rangers scouts believe he is a plus defender with good plate discipline and good instincts on the bases. He has been in Surprise, Ariz., doing conditioning work in anticipation of the deal being completed.

"He's an athletic kid," said international scouting director Mike Daly. "We feel like he can throw. He can run. He's a line-drive-type hitter with knowledge of the strike zone. He can put the ball in the gap. We feel like he's a guy who's going to be able to hit, get on base and really defend center field."

Martin defected from Cuba in September and had spent time working out in Mexico. His agents held open workouts for teams, and the Rangers were able to get an edge because scout Jose Fernandez, a Cuban, had a history with Martin and had worked with him.

He takes the roster spot of Aguero, who was acquired on April 8 on a waiver claim from Pittsburgh. He made five appearances for Triple A Round Rock and Double A Frisco before going on the disabled list with shoulder inflammation. He was activated Monday.

-- Jeff Wilson


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