In a quartet of expected moves, the White Sox have offered arbitration to free agents Paul Konerko and J.J. Putz while declining to offer arbitration to Manny Ramirez and A.J. Pierzynski.
Ramirez made $20 million this season and Pierzynski earned $6.25 million, so while they’re both Type A free agents the White Sox couldn’t risk either player accepting an arbitration offer that basically guarantees a one-year deal at the same salary or higher.
Chicago would gladly bring back Konerko or Putz on one-year deals at their 2010 salaries, so there’s no risk to offering them arbitration.
Konerko has reportedly told the White Sox that they’ll get the opportunity to match any offer he receives as a free agent. Putz returning to Chicago seems much less likely, as he should have no trouble securing multi-year offers after posting a 2.83 ERA and 65/15 K/BB ratio in 54 innings.
Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that the Red Sox and outfielder J.D. Martinez are close to a deal. He takes care to note that the deal is not done yet and the details are not known yet.
Martinez, 30, entered the offseason as the top free agent hitter. Last season, between the Tigers and Diamondbacks, he hit a lusty .303/.376/.690 with 45 home runs and 104 RBI in 489 plate appearances. He missed the first 33 games of the season with a sprained right foot; one wonders what his numbers might’ve been like if he hadn’t been injured.
The Red Sox were the team most strongly linked to Martinez throughout the offseason, despite the relatively slow-moving market. Martinez said he wants to play in the outfield and the Red Sox are currently spoken for at all three positions with Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley, and Mookie Betts. Hanley Ramirez is also penciled in at DH. Should the Martinez deal become official, the Red Sox may try to trade Bradley and move Benintendi to center field.
The AL East is shaping up to be a familiar two-horse race between the Red Sox and Yankees. The addition of Martinez, in a way, answers the Yankees’ addition of Giancarlo Stanton.