Paul Splittorff loses his battle with cancer

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Given the news we heard last week, this was inevitable, but no less sad: Royals pitcher Paul Splittorff died this morning, losing his battle with melanoma and oral cancer.

Splittorff was the quintessential crafty lefty, never overpowering hitters but always finding a way.  His durability and effectiveness led him to become the all-time leader in victories for the Royals. He was a fixture in their rotation from the days right after they entered the league and he played a huge role for them as they rose to the top of the AL West and, in many ways, became the premiere organization in the American League.

Splittorff amassed a career mark of 166-143 with a 3.81 ERA and pitched well in multiple playoff series for the Royals. His final years were spent as a broadcaster for the team.

He was 64-years-old.

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.