Report: Pirates expected to take Gerrit Cole with No. 1 pick

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As opposed to the past two years, there isn’t an obvious No. 1 pick in Monday’s First-Year Player Draft. This has led to spirited debate about who the Pirates may select. Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon, UCLA right-hander Gerrit Cole and Virginia left-hander Danny Hultzen have been mentioned most frequently in the past few weeks, but it appears that the Pirates have a made a decision.

Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is hearing that the Pirates will select Gerrit Cole with the first pick in Monday’s draft.

Cole, 20, arguably has the highest ceiling of any pitcher in the draft. Standing at 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds, Cole can touch 100 mph with his heater and also throws a plus-changeup. He was previously selected by the Yankees with the No. 28 pick in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft, but decided to attend UCLA.

Buster Olney of ESPN.com reported this morning that other teams are anticipating that the Mariners will take a position player with the No. 2 pick. Anthony Rendon would seem to be the favorite, though high school outfielder Bubba Starling is another possibility.

By the way, if you are looking for some in-depth draft insight, check out this piece by Patrick Daugherty of Rotoworld.

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.