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Another Cuban Center Fielder on the Radar

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    One of the many open questions this Rangers offseason has to do with who will play center field for the team next season.

    They used Josh Hamilton there more than they would have liked last season because none of the other players in the mix -- Julio Borbon, Endy Chavez, Craig Gentry -- showed they were capable of taking on the job. There are worse things than using Hamilton there again in 2012, especially if the team isn't sold on the idea of signing him to a long-term deal, but it would be best for him to be in left come next season.

    Plenty of people have been talking up the idea of placing a Cuban defector out there next season, but it might not wind up being Leonys Martin who best fits the bill. Yoennis Cespedes is in the Dominican Republic and ready to start working out for teams with designs on making it to a big league camp and, possibly, lineup next season.

    If he doesn't make it there, his stature as a YouTube phenomenon should bring him some kind of fame and fortune here in the states. This video is well worth a watch, just in case you ever find yourself in the position to sell a Cuban ballplayer.

    Cespedes is 26, he hit .333 with 32 home runs, 99 RBIs and 11 stolen bases in Cuba this season and is drawing interest from plenty of other teams. Scouts like his mix of speed and power and they like the fact that he played well during the 2009 World Baseball Classic, which means that there will likely be healthy bids for his services coming soon.

    According to T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com, the Rangers haven't yet figured out what their level of interest is in Cespedes. They should keep an open mind. Martin had a strong first year of professional ball, even if he might not be quite ready to be an everyday player in the big leagues, and international free agents are a good place for teams to press their financial advantages over the competition because they wind up being cheaper than big league free agents. 

    The Rangers have one of those right now and they would be foolish not to use it before other teams catch up with television deals of their own. Cespedes might not be the guy they choose for that investment, but he's a good player to look into while making plans for next season.