Journeyman Chad Tracy signs to play in Japan

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As NPBtracker notes, former Diamondback Chad Tracy, who struggled to reestablish himself as a big-league regular after undergoing microfracture surgery on his right knee following the 2007 season, is expected to sign an approx. $1.3 million deal to play with the Hiroshima Toyo Carp in 2011.

Tracy hit .308/.359/.553 for the Diamondbacks in his second big-league season in 2005 and followed that up with a second straight 20-homer campaign in 2006, but he began having knee woes in 2007 and hadn’t played in more than 100 games in any season since.  The injury robbed him of range at third base, and he hasn’t hit well enough to justify a starting assignment at first base.

Tracy played for the Cubs and Marlins last season, hitting .247/.306/.322 in 146 at-bats as a reserve.   He would have had to settle for a minor league contract this winter, so that $1.3 million guarantee must of looked almost as appealing as a spicy tuna roll.

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.