Jim Leyland won’t discuss his contract status … starting now

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Jim Leyland is in the final season of his contract, but today the 66-year-old manager responded to questions about his status by saying “I’m not going to discuss it.” And then he discussed it. A lot, actually:

If we do all right, I assume I’ll be here. If we don’t, I probably won’t be. People write about all this pressure. There’s no pressure on me other than to win games. I love to win baseball games. I want to win a division and get to the postseason. Other than that, there’s no pressure on me whatsoever. I’m not going to listen to that silly stuff about the last year of my contract. I’ve been going through that for a hundred years. I don’t really give a care about that, and I’m not going to discuss it.

I’ve been reading all this and that. It’s simple. If you don’t win, people point fingers. Sometimes it’s the manager. Sometimes it’s the players. Sometimes it’s the general manager. But it doesn’t make any difference to me. We’re out here to win games. If we’re in the middle of a game, we’re not thinking about our jobs. We’re thinking about how to beat the other team, win as many games as we can. That’s what we do for a living.

So I’m not going to discuss all that silly stuff. That’s for the writers to gossip about and put in the paper and all that. I’ve been reading that stuff for a while now. I don’t pay any attention to that. I mean, they know in Japan that this is the last year of my contract, because it’s been written about enough.

Jason Beck of MLB.com has a lot more where all that came from.

Leyland saying “sometimes it’s the general manager” is interesting, because Dave Dombrowski is also in the final year of his contract and the GM made a pair of bold, risky free agent signings in Victor Martinez and Joaquin Benoit. I have the Tigers pegged as co-favorites in the AL Central alongside the Twins and White Sox, but Detroit finished 81-81 last year and hasn’t won a division title since 1987.

After filling up reporters’ notebooks with quotes about his contract status, Leyland ended the media session by saying: “But that’s the end of that stuff for the whole year. I’m not talking about that.”

We’ll see how long that moratorium lasts. My guess is the answer will be “whenever the Tigers have their first extended losing streak.”

Report: Red Sox sign J.D. Martinez

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Update (5:16 PM ET): ESPN’s Pedro Gomez is reporting that the deal is final.

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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.