Rays confirm agreement with Cuban OF/1B Anderson
UPDATE, 3:41: Rays now confirm they reached agreement in principle with Anderson but say there are several issues to be worked out.
UPDATE, 2:38: More details translated from El Nuevo Herald, which reports Anderson got a major-league deal and quotes a source close to the talks saying that the Rays want him in camp as soon as possible.
UPDATE, 1:38: Rays say they won't comment on the report, which means either the deal is not done yet, or there is no deal.
DEVELOPING: According to a report in El Nuevo Herald, the Rays have signed Cuban 1B/OF Leslie Anderson on a four-year, $3.75-million deal. There has not been confirmation from the Rays.
Anderson, 27, defected in September and according to mlbtraderumors.com his agent has compared him to the White Sox's Alexei Ramirez.
Here's what ESPN.com's Jorge Arangure Jr. wrote in February about Anderson:
It appears that free agent Cuban first basemen Leslie Anderson and Jose Julio Ruiz are unlikely to sign with a team this week. At this point, it appears that Ruiz, 25, is the more coveted of the two even though Anderson, 27, was more accomplished in the Cuban National Series and was a member of Cuba's National "A" team for more than five years. Ruiz's agents are sifting through several offers and it's unlikely that he'll sign anytime before Monday. Teams are intrigued with Ruiz's batting prowess and at least several are debating whether he could immediately step in and contribute at the major league level. According to several sources, the Red Sox are among his suitors.
Anderson's situation appears to be less favorable. Last Friday, he held an open workout in Cancun, Mexico, yet only nine teams showed up according to a source who was present. None of the nine teams sent a GM.
"I was pleased with the response," said Anderson's agent Jaime Torres, who declined to say how many teams were in Cancun.
But it appears at least two scouts were not impressed with Anderson.
"He was mediocre at best," said an executive of one team who watched Anderson. "Very average tools."
Another scout who attended the workout said: "Leslie showed a below average arm while throwing from centerfield and first base. He ran badly from home to first base. During batting practice he hit several line drives, but showed no power. Defensively, he'll need to play either first base or left field and hit with a very high average and lots of home runs, and right now I don't project that he could. I'd have to think he needs to have another showcase since he didn't hit against live pitching, but instead just had batting practice."
Torres' quandary now is whether it's worthwhile to have another showcase for Anderson to increase his client's overall value -- which may result in a better contract, but might take away valuable time in spring training -- or whether it's more important for Anderson to simply sign with a team as quickly as possible and report to spring training on time. Any delay in reporting to spring training, may cost Anderson a chance at playing time in the majors.
"It's hard to say," Torres said when asked if Anderson might sign in the next week. "Right now we're working on it and we want to get him in big league camp."
Here is an October 2009 blurb from the cubanballplayers.blogspot.com:
Leslie Anderson has been the best hitter for Camagüey. The versatile Anderson was used as a center fielder and then was moved to first base once Loidel Chapellí retired. Anderson has played RF for the national team. Anderson has gap power. He is not your typical slugger like Ryan Howard or Albert Pujols. Anderson could hit between 15-20 home runs at the Major League level if given the chance. He is a gold glove type first baseman, but I believe his value is in CF a position that requires less power than first base and in his overall versatility.
Anderson was part of the Cuban team in both WBC. Any team that is looking for a LF/RF/CF/1B should receive a good value by singing Anderson. Anderson often likes to work the count and takes lots of pitches. Anderson received 417 walks and struck out 376 times in Cuba.
In the last Cuban season, Anderson finished 5th in batting average with 381. He batted 379 against lefties and 382 against righties. Anderson connected 92 times to left field, 68 times to center and 105 times to right field.