Marlins working on deal with lefty reliever Randy Choate

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From Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports comes word that the Marlins are working toward an agreement with free agent reliever Randy Choate.

The 35-year-old left-hander posted a pedestrian 4.23 ERA and 1.30 WHIP across 44.2 innings this past year, but he limited left-handed batters to a .202/.263/.266 slash line.

As a common middle reliever, he’s a liability.  But used in the correct way — strictly as a lefty specialist, in other words — he can be a very strong and reliable piece in a big league bullpen.

Choate was labeled a Type B free agent this offseason and declined an offer of arbitration from the Rays, so he’ll net Tampa Bay a supplemental round draft pick when he signs elsewhere.

The Marlins have made quite a splash on the market this winter, trading Dan Uggla to the Braves for Omar Infante and Michael Dunn, signing catcher John Buck to a three-year, $18 million contract, inking Javier Vazquez to a one-year deal, swapping Cameron Maybin for Padres relievers Ryan Webb and Edward Mujica, and attempting a three-team deal for Royals ace Zack Greinke.

Report: Red Sox, J.D. Martinez close to a deal

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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. If Martinez is willing to concede his outfield wishes, the Red Sox could slot him in at DH and move Ramirez to first base.

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.