Jack Cust and $2.65 million salary clear waivers

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Oakland designated Jack Cust for assignment over the weekend to clear space on the 25-man roster for several out-of-options players, but he’ll likely remain in the organization and head to Triple-A after clearing waivers yesterday.
Perhaps if the A’s would have waived Cust a month ago another team would have had the budget space to take a flier on him as a part-time designated hitter or left fielder, although certainly that’s no guarantee.
Cust has been a very productive hitter despite a .239 career batting average, but that low mark combined with tons of strikeouts and little defensive ability limits the number of interested teams even before considering the difficulty of adding a $2.65 million salary in mid-April.
Cust is coming off his worst season, but was still above average offensively and has produced a .378 on-base percentage with a .462 slugging percentage over the past three years. That works out to an .840 OPS with an average of 33 homers per 550 at-bats. For comparison, only two American League teams got an OPS above .840 from the DH spot last season and only five of the 30 teams across both leagues got an OPS above .840 from left field.
Once the A’s realize that Eric Chavez hasn’t produced like a DH since 2005 or he simply gets hurt again, expect to see Cust back in Oakland.

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.