Nothing particularly new here, but with the recent extension handed out to Joe Mauer and the start of the season just one day away, there’s a very good chance that Victor Martinez will be the premiere catcher on the free agent market this winter.
Consistent with what he has said all spring, Martinez told Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald on Friday that he doesn’t want to negotiate a contract extension during the season.
“During the season, I really have enough to worry about, just playing
the game,” Martinez said. “I don’t want any distraction.”
It would appear that the Red Sox should have a sense of urgency to re-sign Martinez, but Lauber does a pretty good job of playing devil’s advocate. Martinez isn’t viewed as a particularly strong defensive catcher — Driveline Mechanics has him somewhere in the middle of the pack — as he threw out just 13.8 percent of baserunners last season.
Also, although Martinez is expected to be the primary backstop in Boston this season, remember that he’ll turn 32 in December, meaning that his future is likely at first base or designated hitter. Translate his offensive output behind the plate to first base and while he’s still very good, he’s not nearly as impressive as say, Ryan Howard, who will be a free agent after the 2011 season.
In turn, Martinez told Rob Bradford of WEEI.com that he doesn’t need assurances of staying behind the plate as part of his next contract:
“I don’t think I’m going to have to say that,” Martinez said. “I’ll just
play where they need me to play. I just want to help my team win every
night. If my body lets me catch, I’ll be more than happy to do it. I
really like the position and I prepare myself to catch every day.”
Martinez has repeatedly said that he doesn’t want to switch teams yet again — being traded from Cleveland left the man in tears — but interest in a contract extension shouldn’t be a foregone conclusion, even from the Red Sox perspective.
Free agent right-hander Tim Lincecum isn’t ready to hang up his cleats just yet. At least, that’s the word from Lincecum’s agent, Rick Thurman, who says the 32-year-old is still “throwing and getting ready for the season” (via Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News).
Lincecum may not be ready to enter retirement, but another quote from Thurman suggests that he’ll be picky about where he pitches next. He doesn’t appear open to pitching overseas, and despite not having a contract for 2017 (or even any serious suitors), the right-hander is set on pitching in the big leagues this year. Whether or not he’s willing to take a bullpen role to do so remains to be seen.
While Baggarly predicts some interest in the veteran righty, there’s not much in Lincecum’s recent history to inspire faith in him as a starter, or even a reliever. He picked up a one-year, $2.5 million contract with the Angels following his hip surgery in 2015, and went 2-6 in 2016 with a 9.16 ERA, 5.4 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 over 38 1/3 innings. At this point, a minor league contract seems like the surest path back to major league success, though he’s unlikely to find an open spot on the Giants’ or Angels’ rosters anytime soon.
Free agent right-hander Jeff Manship has reportedly signed with the NC Dinos of the Korea Baseball Organization, according to FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The righty was non-tendered by the Indians in December.
Manship, 32, completed his second season with Cleveland in 2016. He delivered a 3.12 ERA, 4.6 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 rate over 43 1/3 innings, a slight decline after posting an 0.92 ERA with the club the year before. During eight years in the major leagues, Manship carries a 4.82 career ERA, 3.6 BB/9 and 6.4 SO/9 in multiple stints with the Twins, Rockies, Phillies and Indians.
The right-hander will be joined by fellow MLB transplants Eric Hacker and Xavier Scruggs, each of whom took one-year deals with the Dinos last month. Steve Adams of MLB Trade Rumors notes that each KBO team is allowed up to three foreign players, so Manship will round out the trio when he joins the roster. Any salary terms have yet to be disclosed.