The Seattle Mariners are reportedly close to a deal with Cuban center fielder Guillermo Heredia, a source told the Tacoma News Tribune.
The right-handed throwing and hitting Heredia, 25, recently defected from Cuba in January and is looking to take his talents to America and Major League Baseball. The past five seasons, Heredia has been playing with Matanzas in Mexico where he established residency before defecting.
In the Tacoma News Tribune report, the deal is reportedly just awaiting a physical before it will be finalized in the next few days. The terms of the deal are not yet known.
In Heredia’s five seasons (374 games) in Mexico, he hit .285 with a .376 on-base percentage to go along with 57 doubles, 121 RBI, and 23 home runs. He also had a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 143:141.
As a fielder, Heredia is considered a plus defender with a .978 fielding percentage and a RF/9 (Range Factor per nine innings) of 2.69 while mostly playing in center field. He has played just two games in his career in a corner outfield position.
Heredia has played on a national stage before when he participated in the World Baseball Classic in 2013 with Cuba and was the starting center fielder.
Baseball America tabs Heredia as “an above-average runner with a quick first step and terrific acceleration.” In August of 2014, Heredia was ranked the number 11 prospect still in Cuba and was exempt from the international bonus pool.
The Mariners are looking to boost their outfield depth and Seattle has decided to dip into the Cuban market to fill that role. Leonys Martin is penciled in as the Opening Day center fielder for the club.
Seattle’s first full squad Spring Training workout begins on Thursday in Peoria, Arizona.