Link-O-Rama: Billy Wagner is the next Brian Stokes

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* Billy Wagner, on his chances of coming back
from Tommy John elbow surgery to have a prominent role in the Mets’
bullpen this season: “I can’t see it. I think that would be foolhardy
to even insinuate something like that. I think what I would be is a
Brian Stokes-type player. I might pitch once a week.” That must make
Brian Stokes feel good.

* Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune reports that the Cubs are expected to pursue B.J. Ryan once he clears waivers to make his release from the Blue Jays official.

* After rumors started swirling
that the Nationals might be interested in hiring former Braves and
Orioles pitching coach Leo Mazzone, team president Stan Kasten said:
“There is not a scintilla of truth to this story.”

* Eric Milton’s comeback is over after just five starts, as the 33-year-old southpaw underwent back surgery yesterday and is expected to be sidelined for at least three months.

* Jon Weisman of Dodger Thoughts transcribed a 1982 interview
between Larry King and Red Barber in which Barber tells the story of
how Vin Scully was hired by the Dodgers. And if that description isn’t
enough for you to click the link, then we probably can’t be friends.

J.D. Martinez tells teams he prefers an outfield role

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Free agent outfielder/slugger J.D. Martinez is reportedly seeking an outfield gig, says Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald. According to Silverman’s sources, Martinez’s suitors have been informed that the veteran slugger would give preference to teams that can offer a corner outfield spot, rather than a DH-only role.

That could spell trouble for the Red Sox, who appear to be Martinez’s biggest suitors so far this offseason. Outfielders Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi are firmly established at the corners, and prior reports from club president Dave Dombrowski suggest that center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. is not going anywhere anytime soon (thereby eliminating the possibility of reshuffling the outfield). The DH spot is still wide open for Martinez, who doesn’t seem to be totally closed off to the idea, but any full-time or part-time role on the field is likely off the table at this point.

Of course, the Red Sox aren’t the only ones pursuing Martinez’s services this winter. The 30-year-old slugger has been linked to both the Diamondbacks and Giants in weeks past, and while they have the roster flexibility to accommodate his preferences, they’ll need to clear another massive hurdle: the seven-year, $250 million contract he’s said to be seeking. Both clubs will need to get creative to make such a deal work. The Diamondbacks are rumored to be shopping right-hander Zack Greinke in an attempt to free up some room on their payroll for Martinez, while the Giants appear more inclined to scour the trade market for outfield help than shell out cash for another hefty contract in free agency.