I remember my thought when back in 2011 when the Rangers signed Leony Martin: “The center-fielder of the future.”
Turns out he wasn’t that guy, but he indirectly led to the discovery of that guy. Right, Delino DeShields?
With the emergence of DeShields and the moping of Martin, the Rangers dealt the latter Monday in a trade that ends a disappointing chapter while also bolstering a bullpen. In exchange for Martin, general manager Jon Daniels acquired right-handed pitcher Tom Wilhelmsen.
Martin was a can’t-miss prospect after defecting from Cuba five years ago. He could run. And, boy, could he play defense. He’d be perfect for the vast, green expanses in Arlington. The Rangers signed him to a five-year, $15 million contract, which was the largest ever at the time for a Cuban player.
He always had the glove and the cannon arm, producing 38 assists as the full-time center fielder beginning in 2013. And in 2014 he seemed to have found his offensive stride, hitting .274 and stealing 31 bases. But in 2015 he struggled with injuries, hitting only .219 and ultimately getting beaten out by DeShields. When Martin was left off Texas’ playoff roster, he refused to report to Arizona for workouts.
Said Daniels, “We felt we had to move him.”
If the Rangers didn’t have a better option than Martin they’d be crazy to give up on him this early. He’s still only 27 and, given his elite defensive skills, is a proven asset. But the Rangers were wrong about him being their center-fielder of the future.
They’d better be right about DeShields.
A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.