Nationals sign Willy Taveras to minor-league deal

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When the A’s traded for and then almost immediately released Willy Taveras last week I wrote: “Expect him to land a bench gig at the minimum salary with a team that likes outfielders who run fast and make tons of outs.”
Apparently the Nationals fit that description, because this afternoon they signed Taveras to a minor-league contract with an invite to spring training. Washington has now invited approximately 10,000 recognizably veteran names to camp, with Taveras being joined by guys like Eddie Guardado, Miguel Batista, Chris Duncan, Kevin Mench, Eric Bruntlett, Logan Kensing, Joel Peralta, Jamie Burke, and Jerry Owens.
Taveras’ primary competition should be Owens because they’re essentially the same player and keeping both good-glove, no-hit speedsters around doesn’t make sense, especially with the speedy and offensively capable Willie Harris already around as the team’s fourth outfielder. The bigger question is how many more random veterans the Nationals can sign before they run out of double-digit uniform numbers to hand out.

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.