The Jays are close to signing 21-year-old Cuban defector Adeinis Hechavarria for a $10-million US bonus that would tie him to the team for four years, according to George King in yesterday’s edition of the New York Post.

The free-spending Yankees were considered front-runners for the shortstop but, according to King, Hechavarria’s mind was changed because of the reported contract extension being negotiated by New York captain Derek Jeter.

“Especially when it comes to free agents, whether they’re Latin American or real free agents, opportunity is a big component of it,” a vague and non-committal Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos explained while refusing to confirm his interest in the prospect.

“Anyone that you look to sign is going to check the landscape and see who’s competing in front of them and so on, where the opportunity can lie to get to the big leagues as fast as you can.”

The Jays have been looking for an everyday shortstop since Alex Gonzalez departed the scene in the winter of 2001.

“I can’t get into specifics, but everyone knows we’ve been looking for young, talented players, especially in the middle infield,” Anthopoulos said. “We’ve been trying to get a shortstop, adding more depth and getting more prospects. We need to be involved in more of those guys and evaluating them.”

The Jays were reported to be among the final four teams in the running for left-hander Aroldis Chapman, another Cuban, who eventually chose the Cincinnati Reds. Since then, the Jays are reported to have staged a private workout in the Dominican Republic for Cuban first baseman J.J. Ruiz, who remains unsigned, and now have their sights set on Hechavarria, who at six-foot-one, 170 pounds, is being compared to Alfonso Soriano.

Latest From ...