Long before the Rangers broke their three-game losing streak with a 5-2 win at Seattle on Wednesday, the club made its biggest news of the day, signing Cuban center fielder Leonys Martin to a five-year, $15.5 million contract.
Martin, 23, is a speedy, left-handed hitting outfielder whom club officials called "instinctive," "a plus defender" and a threat to be an "impact player on the bases."
In other words: all the things the club hoped center fielder Julio Borbon would be right now.
And while general manager Jon Daniels did allow that it's possible Martin could reach the majors before the end of the year, he said Borbon is not simply holding space until the Cuban player arrives. Martin will spend the next couple of weeks at extended spring training in Arizona before likely going to a minor league team.
"Possession is nine-tenths of the law," Daniels said. "Julio has the job right now. He's started to swing the bat better lately. We need him to contribute now. For the long term, we're better if we've got options and depth. As we saw this spring with our pitching staff, you never know what's going to happen and when. If we can sign premium talent with premium makeup for premium positions, it's going to put us in a good spot."
Borbon, who is hitting .262 for the season, had a second consecutive solid game Wednesday. He was 1-for-4 and made a diving catch.
"There's no concern for me at all," Borbon said of the club signing Martin. "It's more of a reminder that things in this game move quickly. There is no telling what will happen or what may happen. My concern isn't about who they sign; it's about going out there and doing my job. My job is to go out and play a good center field. This is competition. I compete every day."
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