Rangers activate Julio Borbon from disabled list … and send him to Triple-A

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Julio Borbon’s lack of production at the plate and inconsistent defense in center field had him falling out of favor in Texas even before injuring his hamstring in mid-May, but now the fall is complete and he’s landed back in the minors.

This afternoon the Rangers activated Borbon from the disabled list and optioned him Triple-A, where he last played in mid-2009.

Since then Borbon has 745 plate appearances in 215 games for the Rangers, including back-to-back Opening Day starts in center field, but he’s hit just .275 with a terrible .308 on-base percentage and punchless .342 slugging percentage in 169 games since a strong half-season debut in 2009.

What’s particularly interesting about the Rangers demoting Borbon to Triple-A is that the guy they’re now turning to as the primary center fielder is 33-year-old Endy Chavez, whose current .415 batting average in 12 games doesn’t hide his .315 career OBP or the fact that he hasn’t gotten 300 plate appearances in a season since 2006.

Convincing the Rangers that he’s a better option than Chavez is doable for Borbon, largely because Chavez will do a lot of that work for him, but by the time Texas is ready to move on in center field they may decide to turn to $15 million Cuban signee Leonys Martin rather than give Borbon another shot. Martin is hitting .319 with good plate discipline and power at Double-A.

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.