Diamondbacks sound like a team planning to trade Dan Haren

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Most of the reports surrounding Dan Haren’s availability have focused on the Diamondbacks’ public stance that they’ll only trade the ace right-hander if they get an “A-plus deal” in return.

That’s a smart approach for them to take because Haren is a) one of the more underrated No. 1 starters in baseball, b) signed for reasonable money through 2013, c) and under 30 years old.

However, what struck me most about team officials stressing what type of top-notch haul they’d need in return for Haren is that the mere act of speaking publicly about such things sure makes it seem like they’re planning to trade him.

For instance, here’s what Diamondbacks chief executive officer Derrick Hall said yesterday:

It would need to be, in our opinion, an A-plus deal. I think ideally what we would ask for is major league-ready pitching, be it starters and/or bullpen and prospects. Volume doesn’t matter, it doesn’t need to be four, five or six guys, it’s really about the quality.

As I’ve said before, if a deal can’t get done for Haren and he’s on our team next year, I’m fine with that. If we can get three or four pieces that can bring value now and are also controllable for a number of years, then we’d have to consider it. If we bring in the right pieces and explain ourselves, fans will understand that it was a move to improve our team now.

To me, a quote like “if a deal can’t get done for Haren and he’s on our team next year, I’m fine with that” sure sounds like a team all but convinced he’ll be traded. If nothing else, it’s a major shift in tone from the team’s public stance on Haren just a couple weeks ago. I’d guess the Diamondbacks have more or less decided to deal Haren and recently made that clear to other teams, which is why just about every contender is suddenly being linked to him.

Haren has a partial no-trade clause that allows him to block a move to 12 teams and has previously said he’d like to remain in Arizona, but according to Steve Gilbert of MLB.com “he would be open-minded about a possible deal.” He’s scheduled to start Tuesday against the Phillies and I’d bet on it being his final start in a Diamondbacks uniform.

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.