Red Sox exercise Victor Martinez's option, cut Alex Gonzalez loose

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In a pair of no-brainer decisions for 2010, the Red Sox have exercised their $7.1 million option on Victor Martinez and declined their $6 million option on Alex Gonzalez.
Acquired from the Indians at the trading deadline, Martinez hit .336/.405/.507 with 41 RBIs in 56 games for the Red Sox while splitting time between catcher and first base. He’ll be Boston’s starting catcher in 2010, but also figures to see action at first base and designated hitter thanks to Jason Varitek likely returning via a $3 million player option.
Martinez isn’t much of a defender behind the plate, throwing out just 14 percent of steal attempts this year and 24 percent for his career, but as a 30-year-old switch-hitter with a .299/.372/.465 career line he’s among the best-hitting catchers in baseball history. Looking at all catchers through the age of 30 he ranks 14th in RBIs, 17th in Runs Created, 19th in adjusted OPS+, and 20th in extra-base hits. He hits like a first baseman and plays a passable catcher, which makes Martinez hugely valuable.
As for Gonzalez, the vast majority of his value comes from a good glove. He was with the Marlins for eight seasons before a one-year stint with the Red Sox and then signed a three-year, $14 million contract with the Reds. He had a career-year in 2007, batting .272/.325/.468 with 16 homers, but missed all of 2008 with a fractured knee and struggled mightily after returning this year. He hit just .210/.258/.296 before the Reds traded him to the Red Sox, but then hit .284/.316/.453 as Boston’s starting shortstop.
Gonzalez has been wildly inconsistent but mostly terrible offensively throughout his career, hitting .247/.294/.395 in 11 seasons, but makes up for it with consistently excellent defense that even graded out well after the injury. He’s obviously no great shakes, but this offseason’s crop of free-agent shortstops is incredibly underwhelming and he’d be a reasonable short-term option for teams not interested in overpaying for someone like Miguel Tejada or Marco Scutaro.

Three A’s rookies hit their first big league home runs on Saturday

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The Athletics followed Friday’s 3-0 shutout with a rookie-led home run derby on Saturday afternoon, watching not one, not two, but three rookies belt their first major league home runs off of the White Sox’ James Shields.

Right fielder Matt Olson was the first to strike, taking Shields deep on a first-pitch, two-run blast in the first inning for his first home run in 49 major league plate appearances:

Fellow outfielder Jaycob Brugman duplicated his teammate’s results in the second inning with a solo home run, his first extra-base hit of any kind since he made his debut on June 9:

In the third, with a comfortable 4-0 lead backing two scoreless frames from Oakland right-hander Daniel Gossett, Franklin Barreto took his shot at Shields. After getting the call several hours prior to Saturday’s game, he became the fastest of the three rookies to record his first big league homer, going yard on a 2-2 changeup and driving in Bruce Maxwell to give the A’s a six-run advantage.

The Athletics currently lead the White Sox 8-2 in the top of the sixth inning.

Athletics call up top prospect Franklin Barreto

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The Athletics called up their top prospect on Saturday, inserting shortstop Franklin Barreto into the lineup for their second game against the White Sox. Barreto was originally scheduled to make his major league debut on Sunday, but got a head start after Jed Lowrie sustained a minor knee sprain in Friday’s 3-0 win and was scratched from Saturday’s lineup.

Barreto, 21, has been rapidly climbing the rungs of the A’s minor league system after getting dealt by the Blue Jays in 2014. He got his first taste of Triple-A action late last year, going 6-for-17 with three RBI and getting caught stealing in two attempts. He fared little better this spring, slashing .281/.326/.428 with eight home runs and a .754 OPS through his first 309 PA in Nashville.

While his minor league production has been solid, if underwhelming for a prospect of his caliber, the A’s are expected to give the rookie infielder a long leash with both Marcus Semien and Chad Pinder sitting on the disabled list. Pinder landed on the 10-day DL after suffering a left hamstring strain on Friday. Semien, meanwhile, is still working his way back from the 60-day DL with a right wrist fracture and likely won’t rejoin the team until he completes a rehab assignment with High-A Stockton.