Rays shortstop Jason Bartlett a DL candidate

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bartlett headshot.jpgManager Joe Maddon said Tuesday that it’s a “50-50 proposition” whether shortstop Jason Bartlett will land on the disabled list because of right hamstring soreness.
Bartlett has been slumping and was recently dropped from first to last in Tampa Bay’s lineup, so a break might not be the worst thing. He’s hitting just .231/.327/.330 this season after posting what might go down as his career year in 2009, when he finished at .320/.389/.490 in 500 at-bats.
Filling in for Bartlett during his absence will be Reid Brignac. The 24-year-old Brignac was long considered the Rays’ shortstop of the future, but that began to change with another somewhat disappointing campaign in Triple-A last year and Bartlett’s big season. Brignac, though, has hit an impressive .306/.364/.454 in 108 at-bats as a part-time player for the Rays this year.
Moving Brignac from second base, where he’s been getting a lot of time of late, to shortstop, still opens up a hole in the lineup, though. The Rays would have the option of going with Ben Zobrist regularly at second base, creating room in the outfield for top prospect Desmond Jennings. However, Jennings, who missed the start of the year with a wrist injury, is hitting just .245/.343/.319 in 30 games for Triple-A Durham.
Instead, the Rays would probably mix and match Gabe Kapler and Sean Rodriguez between right field and second base for a little while. Veteran utilityman Joe Dillon would be one candidate to replace Bartlett on the roster.

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.