PEORIA, Ariz. — The Mariners are dipping into the Cuban market in an effort to fill their quest to add another center fielder.
Sources confirmed Monday the club has an agreement in place with Guillermo Heredia, a 25-year-old who spent five-plus years at Matanzas before defecting in January 2015 and establishing residency in Mexico.
Heredia is considered a plus defender and batted .285 with a .376 on-base percentage from 2009-14 with Matanzas. He also had 57 doubles, 15 triples and 23 homers with 141 walks and just 143 strikeouts in 374 games.
Sources said the deal is pending a physical examination but should be wrapped up within a few days. Contract terms are not yet known, but Heredia is exempt from the Mariners’ assigned international bonus pool spending allotment.
The Mariners open full-squad workouts Thursday at the Peoria Sports Complex. They had been searching for a viable backup to starting center Leonys Martin.
Heredia played for Cuba in the 2013 World Baseball Classic but barely played for Matanzas in 2014 before defecting. A right-handed hitter who throws left-handed, he is 5 feet 11 and 180 pounds.
The deal with Heredia comes less than a month after the Mariners signed another Cuban defector, infielder Dayner Moreira, who is currently taking part in the club’s mini-camp for minor-league players.
Baseball America offered this scouting report on Heredia in August 2014:
"Nicknamed "El Conde" (or "The Count"), Heredia shines in center field. He’s an above-average runner with a quick first step and terrific acceleration. He gets excellent reads off the bat, even on balls hit directly over his head that give most center fielders trouble.
"Heredia takes direct routes on fly balls and covers tremendous ground in center field with the ability to make highlight-reel catches. He has a good arm as well, although some scouts think his accuracy needs work. For Heredia to be more than a fourth outfielder, he will have to improve at the plate."
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners