Oh, you didn’t hear? It might as well be a secret since the Johnny Damon front has been pretty quiet over the past few days. In his Sunday column for ESPN.com, Buster Olney provides an excellent timeline of events during the negotiations with the Yankees, writing that “it’s laughable that the Yankees are taking flak for not working out a contract” with the 36-year-old outfielder.
The Reds appear out of the running after signing Orlando Cabrera and if Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com is correct, you’d have to think the odds of him joining the Athletics would take a hit if they sign Gabe Gross as a fourth outfielder. This leaves only a precious few with the ability to sign him. The Rays remain in the mix, but in his weekly column for the Chicago Tribune, Phil Rogers handicaps the Tigers as the favorite.
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.