That’s right. During the team’s winter caravan event on Saturday, manager Dusty Baker mentioned that the team has considered using prospect Yonder Alonso behind the plate. Mark Sheldon of MLB.com has the quote from the Reds’ skipper:
“That’s always a possibility,” Baker said. “We’ve entertained a few things, even the possibility of putting Alonso behind the plate. He’s built more like a catcher than he is anything. Imagine a left-handed, power-hitting catcher. A lot of that depends on our Minor League development people that spend time with the kids and the time training them.”
Save for a few designated hitter assignments here and there, the former 2008 first-round pick has exclusively played at first base in the minor leagues, so this is probably wishful thinking more than anything else. I’ve looked for any evidence of him playing another position during his time at the University of Miami, but have come up empty-handed.
Alonso, who turns 23 in April, batted .292/.374/.464 with nine home runs and 52 RBI during his first full year of pro ball last season, reaching as high as Double-A Carolina. He was recently ranked as the club’s No. 2 prospect by Baseball America and is expected to rise rather quickly, so something will have to give with Joey Votto as the big club’s current first baseman. Many have speculated that Votto will eventually be ticketed for left field.
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.