Brandon Morrow now throwing strikes with the strikeouts

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Brandon Morrow has always racked up huge strikeout totals with his mid-90s fastball and power slider, but major control problems left me skeptical that he could dominate as a starter long term. I’m still not entirely convinced, but Morrow has made progress with the walks of late and was brilliant yesterday, shutting out the Cardinals for eight innings while striking out eight and walking one.
Since being knocked out of his May 10 start in the second inning Morrow has a 2.93 ERA and 46 strikeouts in 49 innings spread over eight starts. Better yet he’s walked just 16, which is 2.9 per nine innings. Still certainly not great control, but prior to that stretch he had walked 5.9 per nine innings as a starter for his career. His raw stuff has never been in question, so if the improved control is here to stay Morrow’s upside is immense.

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.