The Texas Rangers were on the verge Tuesday morning of reaching an agreement with Cuban outfielder Julio Pablo Martinez, a center fielder who is regarded as the top international prospect currently available.
Two sources said that the final paperwork was being completed on a deal that comes with a $2.8 million bonus. The Rangers have the most money to offer the 21-year-old, who selected the Rangers over the New York Yankees and Miami Marlins.
The Rangers turned their attention to Martinez after missing out on Shohei Ohtani in December. They had $3.53 million in international bonus money left to use after the Japanese star selected the Los Angeles Angels, and did so quickly by signing a handful of prospects.
Two trades with Cincinnati and Kansas City helped the Rangers acquire more international slots to help lure Martinez, who defected from Cuba last year and established residency in Haiti in November.
He worked out for the Rangers in January after also working out for the Yankees and Marlins, and was cleared last month by MLB to sign with a team beginning Tuesday.
Martinez is a speedy power hitter despite being only 5-foot-10 and 180 pounds. Baseball America reported that Martinez is polished enough to potentially open the 2018 season at High A or Double A.
The Rangers' top prospect is outfielder Leody Taveras, who is also a center fielder who hits for power and can run. Taveras is a switch-hitter and only 19 years old, but he is also likely to open the season at High A.