- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 3, 2011

FORT WORTH, TEXAS (AP) - The Texas Rangers are close to announcing a deal with Cuban defector Leonys Martin, two people familiar with the situation told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

The 23-year-old outfielder is already working out in Surprise, Ariz., where the Rangers‘ spring training complex is located, one of the people said. The other person said Martin’s signing could be made official as soon as Wednesday.

Both people spoke on condition of anonymity because no announcement has been made by the defending AL champion Rangers.

Martin took a physical for the Rangers several weeks ago, but the deal has been held up while the team waited for proper approval from the U.S. Department of State since the outfielder defected from Cuba and then established residency in Mexico before becoming a free agent.

Martin, considered a top prospect with his speed and defense, played for Cuba in the 2009 World Baseball Classic.

The Rangers are expected to put Martin on their 40-man roster, which would require a move to clear a roster spot.

Once the deal is completed, Martin could stay in Surprise for a short time before being assigned to one of the Rangers‘ minor league teams. He could make it to the majors leagues this season.

Several reports, including one on the team’s website, indicate that Martin’s contract with the Rangers will be worth about $15 million. The Dallas Morning News reported that Martin told family members in Cuba last month that he was going to sign with Texas for $15 million.

Hard-throwing left-hander Aroldis Chapman, another Cuban defector, got a $30.25 million, six-year deal from Cincinnati Reds in January 2010.

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