Rangers sign free agent outfielder Leonys Martin


The Rangers made the deal official today signing Cuban defector Leonys Martin. Here is the press release from the team.

The Texas Rangers formally announced today that the club has signed outfielder Leonys Martin (pronounced lee-OH-niss) to a five-year major league contract. Martin has reported to the club’s complex in Surprise, Arizona. To make room for Martin on the 40-man roster, the club has designated right-handed pitcher Ramon Aguero for assignment.

Martin, 23, last played for Cuba’s national team in Japan during the FISU World University Championships in July and August, defecting from his home country at some point after that tournament. The 6-foot-1, 180-pound outfielder is a left-handed batter and throws right-handed. He played for Cuba in several world events, including tournaments in Japan and The Netherlands. Martin was a career .314 (417-1329) hitter over five seasons with Villa Clara in the Cuban League. He batted .326 (105-322)

He played for Cuba in the 2006 World Junior Championship and was the club’s fourth outfielder in the 2009 World Baseball Classic, going 2-for-7 with 3 runs scored. He played for Villa Clara in the 2007-08 and 2008-09 seasons in Cuba. He was an All-Star as a utility player for the ’08-’09 campaign, batting .311 with a .491 on-base pct. as Villa Clara lost in the championship finals that season to La Habana. In 2007-08, Martin ranked 2nd in the league with a .398 (105-264) average, adding 14 doubles, 9 triples, 4 homers, 34 RBI, and 63 runs scored.

During the University Championships in Tokyo on August 7, he was on base when Cuban teammate Alfredo Despaignes hit a walk-off 3-run homer to defeat Team USA in the Gold Medal Game. In that final tournament, he batted .450 (9-20) with 2 doubles, 14 runs, 8 walks, and 2 strikeouts.

Aguero, 26, was acquired from Pittsburgh on a wavier claim on April 8. The Rangers have 10 days to trade, release, or outright Aguero to the minor leagues. He has made 5 appearances for Round Rock (AAA) and Frisco (AA), combining to go 1-0 with a 1.93 ERA (1 ER/4.2 IP). Aguero was on the Frisco 7-day disabled list from April 22-May 2 with right shoulder inflammation. The Dominican native originally signed with the Pirates as a non-drafted free agent on July 19, 2005. He was designated for assignment by Pittsburgh on March 31 after making a pair of relief appearances in Grapefruit League play this spring.

With these moves, the Rangers still have a full 40-man roster.

According to beat reporters he should start the season with Frisco. Jon Daniels has said that currently Julio Borbon is the starting centerfielder but this signing will lead to a healthy competition for the spot.

-Jonathan