C’mon Nats fans, you knew this sneak preview would end eventually.
Though the Nationals didn’t include last year’s No.1 overall pick Bryce Harper in their first round of cuts yesterday, he was sent to low-Class A Hagerstown following this afternoon’s win over the Yankees, according to Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington.com.
The Nationals insisted that Harper had no chance to make the team out of spring training, so today’s news doesn’t come as a surprise. Still, the 18-year-old hitting sensation was pretty impressive in limited action. After striking out twice on just seven pitches in his Grapefruit League debut against the Mets, Harper went 7-for-16 with three doubles and five RBI. He was hit by a pitch in his only at-bat against the Yankees this afternoon.
According to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post, Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo hasn’t ruled out Harper playing in the majors this season, but the most likely scenario is that he arrives as a September call-up.
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.