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The Door is Open for a D’Backs, Martinez Reunion

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The Boston Red Sox and free-agent outfielder J.D. Martinez have provided some of the very few headlines of this offseason.  Both sides parallel the trending gap between clubs and players.  The Red Sox are reported to be offering a contract similar to Yoenis Céspedes received from the New York Mets last offseason (4 year, $110 million).

Martinez is rumored to be seeking more years and a higher AAV then what is currently on the table from Boston.  J.D. Martinez is coming off a season in which he hit 45 HR’s and drove in 104 RBI’s with the Detroit Tigers and Arizona Diamondbacks.

The Red Sox are looking to add more power to a lineup that finished last in the American League in HR’s.  The Sox and Martinez have been linked as an ideal pair since the beginning of the offseason, yet neither side can agree to deal.

On July 18, 2017 the Tigers decided to trade their star to the Diamondbacks for prospects.  J.D. Martinez flourished in his unearthed pennant race.  Martinez provided many big home runs down the stretch for the D’backs in route to their first playoff appearance since 2011.

The D’backs lost in three to the eventual National League Champion Los Angeles Dodgers.  However, the season was deemed a success.  Martinez was considered a rental player for the small market club.

Arizona ranks 16th in team payroll with Zack Grienke’s AAV of $34 million taking up 28% of the team’s $118 million (figures provided by Spotrac).  Perennial All-Star Paul Goldschmidt is set to become a free agent after the 2019 season and will get a significant raise from someone.  If this were a normal offseason the D’backs would certainly be out of the J.D. sweepstakes.

The market for Martinez has taken his free agency into February.  Pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training for all 30 teams throughout next week.  Martinez has been reported to be willing to wait out Boston or any club for that matter beyond Spring Training.

Discussions between Martinez and the Red Sox appear to be at a halt.  The Red Sox have given no inclination to go beyond their current offer.  Martinez is determined to get more than what the Sox have put on the table.  Enter the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Martinez enjoyed a great deal of success in his limited time in the desert during last season, and a reunion now seems feasible.  Arizona’s time to win is now with the aging Greinke and free agency looming for Goldschmidt.  Arizona coming off of a 93-win season and re-signing Martinez would be formidable even in the tough NL West.

The D’backs cannot win a bidding war with the Red Sox.  Yet, the current market paired with the Sox unwillingness to big against themselves opens a door for Arizona.  The D’backs could offer Martinez a deal similar to the contract the Mets gave Céspedes (4 year, $110 million).  The ideal way to tailor the offer to Martinez’s liking would be to offer an opt-out after the first season.

This would give Martinez both years and dollars while giving him an outlet to re-enter free agency should he choose to after this season.  This agreement would return a big bat to heart of an already dangerous lineup.

The opportunity for Arizona is now.  The current economic climate in baseball has created a competitive balance for Arizona to outmaneuver Boston.  The D’backs cannot afford to let Martinez slither his way to Boston.

 

American League

2018 ALCS: Astros Aiming To Repeat, Red Sox Looking For Revenge

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NBC.

This year’s American League Championship Series won’t be an unfamiliar scenario for baseball fans, because it’s a rematch of last year’s American League Division Series. Defending World Champion Houston will square off with Boston for the second consecutive postseason, this time with one more game and a lot more at stake. Houston wants a second consecutive pennant, Boston wants second blood.

The Astros defeated the Red Sox three games to one in one half of last season’s ALDS. The Red Sox were on the cusp on forcing a decisive Game 5, but questionable managerial decisions from ex-skipper John Farrell ultimately led to the team’s demise. The Astros then defeated the Yankees and then Los Angeles (both in thrilling seven game series) to bring the Commissioner’s Trophy to Texas for the first time ever.

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Postseason homer machine George Springer will look to send his team to another Fall Classic (The Houston Chronicle).

Both teams have different looks this time around in converse ways. Houston traded for superstar RHP Gerrit Cole last offseason while Boston signed slugging free agent OF/DH JD Martinez. What’s interesting is that both moves paid massive dividends. Aside Justin Verlander, Dallas Keuchel and Charlie Morton, Cole helped make the Astros’ starting rotation the unquestioned best in the game. Martinez, on the other hand, rejuvenated the Red Sox’ previously dormant offense and made it a force to be reckoned with again, coming within inches of the Triple Crown in the process.

What’s even more interesting is the new dynamic the rematch presents. As previously mentioned, the Sox parted ways with John Farrell last fall after his controversial pitching decisions killed the team’s rally and got them bounced from the ALDS for the second straight year. Who did they hire almost immediately after?  Houston Bench Coach Alex Cora, who resigned from AJ Hinch’s staff after Game 7.  Though there doesn’t appear to be any hard feelings on Houston’s side, it’s safe to bet that it will still serve as motivation.

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Red Sox rookie manager Alex Cora finds himself opposite the team he helped lead win it all last season (The Boston Globe).

Boston’s motivation is quite simple, don’t lose to the same team two years in a row. To do this, the team will have to find a way to topple that lethal trio of Verlander, Keuchel and Cole, but also to shut down Houston’s relentless offense, led in the ALDS by Alex Bregman and George Springer. Though he was injured for a majority of the year, Jose Altuve still goes without saying as well.

Don’t get it wrong, though. The Red Sox are no slouches, featuring two MVP front runners in Martinez and Mookie Betts alongside Andrew Benintendi and Xander Bogaerts. Chris Sale anchors a rotation that fared quite well against the Yankees in the LDS (with the obvious exception of David Price). Chris Sale, Nathan Eovaldi and Rick Porcello were all excellent vs. New York’s powerful core, Cora will be hoping they can replicate that success. He has announced that Price will start Game 2 despite yet another disaster in ALDS Game 2, the reasoning behind this decision is anyone’s guess.

Game 1 is Saturday at 8:09 PM ET on TBS from Fenway Park. Each team will lead off with its ace, Verlander vs. Sale. Don’t miss it!

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American League

Orioles Part Ways with Buck Showalter

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The Baltimore Orioles will be in search for a new manager as Buck Showalter will not return to his manager post in 2019 following a 9 year run with the organization, according to ESPN.

Showalter, 62, was at the helm for a nightmare 2018 that saw the team trade Mann Machado as they decided to start a massive youth movement, and the O’s went 47-115 to became just the fifth major league team since 1900 to lose 115 games or more in a season.

“Mr. Angelos’ family has been great to me and mine,” Showalter said on Sunday regarding the pending decision of owner Peter Angelos . “So whatever direction they decide to go, I’m at peace with it.”

“It’s about winning the game,” Showalter said at the conclusion of the season. “That’s one of the things I really feel like we need to get back to, the expectations of winning. That’s part of it. You’ve got to have expectations of winning, regardless of if you’re whatever they call it nowadays — building. I don’t believe in rebuild, the word rebuild. The first thing you have to accomplish, and one of the things I tried to do when I got here, is to raise the expectations of winning.”

Per the report, Showalter received official word in a meeting with brothers John and Lou Angelos on Wednesday morning.

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American League

White Sox Outright Dustin Garneau

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The Chicago White Sox have outrighted catcher Dustin Garneau to Triple-A Charlotte, according to the Chicago Sun-Times’ Daryl Van Schouwen.

With the move the White Sox created an open spot on their 40-man roster.

Garneau posted a dreadful .194/.269/.321 over 280 plate appearances at the major league level, a far drop off from his production at the Triple-A level this season, where he posted a .252/.340/.468 line to go along with seven homeruns.

 

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