Jordan Zimmermann will be limited to just four more starts as Nationals monitor workload

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Jordan Zimmermann has fared extremely well in his full-season return from Tommy John elbow surgery, posting a 3.12 ERA and 98/22 K/BB ratio in 21 starts, but Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post reports that the Nationals will soon remove him from the rotation in an effort to limit the 25-year-old right-hander’s workload.

According to Kilgore the Nationals don’t want Zimmermann throwing more than 160 innings this season and he’s already logged 133, so they’re expected to give him just four more starts before shutting him down.

Unless they skip his turn in the rotation several times before then that would likely mean Zimmermann not starting at all in September, with Stephen Strasburg potentially stepping into the rotation spot during the final month if his own recovery from Tommy John surgery continues to go well.

Davey Johnson indicated that he’d like to talk general manager Mike Rizzo into expanding the limit because of how well Zimmermann has pitched, but avoiding that temptation is the smart move. Ultimately a big part of the Nationals’ future involves Strasburg and Zimmermann atop their long-term rotation and a few extra September starts don’t mean much in terms of reaching that goal.

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.