Major League Baseball has cleared 21-year-old Cuban center fielder Julio Pablo Martinez to sign beginning on March 6, which means Martinez will be eligible to sign during the current 2017-18 signing period.
That doesn’t necessarily mean Martinez will sign during the current signing period, since some teams have already exhausted their 2017-18 bonus pools. The three favorites to sign Martinez are the Marlins, Rangers and Yankees. If the Marlins or Yankees land Martinez, he would likely wait to sign until the 2018-19 period opens on July 2. The Rangers have spent some of their 2017-18 pool money they had allocated for Shohei Ohtani, but they might still have enough to sign him in March and have him begin his career right away.
While Martinez’s first assignment will depend on several factors, his talent level is commensurate with a player in high Class A or Double-A. At around 5-foot-10, 180 pounds, Martinez has a good combination of power and speed from the left side. He batted .333/.469/.498 in 264 plate appearances during his final season in Cuba, with 52 walks, 30 strikeouts and 24 stolen bases in 29 attempts.