MLB Rumors: The Texas Rangers are favorites to land Julio Pablo Martinez, the 21 year old Cuban center fielder who will be eligible to sign with any major league team on March 6, and Jon Heyman says the Rangers are hopeful that they will have him signed soon after he’s officially eligible.
Martinez is subject to the MLB international bonus cap restrictions, and the Rangers have the most money available in their 2017-18 J-2 pool after making multiple trades to add additional space. Heyman says the Rangers have about $2.8 million they can spend, and if Martinez wants more than that, he would have to wait to sign with a team after July 2, 2018, and hope that whatever other team is out there has the money available in the pool and not otherwise allocated (teams often have oral agreements with players a year or more in advance of the date they can legally sign).
Martinez is seen as someone with first round talent, a small lefthanded-hitting center fielder with a good all around game but questions about his approach and hit tool. He would likely be in the back half of the Rangers’ top 10 prospect list, should he sign, and he’s been portrayed as having a current talent level
commiserate commensurate with a player in high-A or AA, so he’d seem likely to start the season with the Rangers’ high-A Carolina League affiliate, the Down East Wood Ducks, with the possibility of joining the Frisco Roughriders at some point in 2018.