Report: Cubs will retain general manager Jim Hendry

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From Bob Nightengale of USA Today comes word that Jim Hendry’s job as the Cubs’ general manager is safe, barring a sudden change of thinking on the part of ownership.

Hendry has dished out poor contract after poor contract since taking the helm in Chicago back in July of 2002, but he’s apparently gained the trust of the Ricketts family and will remain the Cubs’ primary decision-maker heading into what should be an active free agency period.

Over $30 million in salary will be dropped from the Cubs’ payr0ll when the 2011 regular season ends. It was widely assumed that the Ricketts, who bought the team last year, would inject fresh faces into the front office to handle the spending of that freed-up cash. But now it appears as though Hendry will remain in power.

Hendry did share a hug in May with this winter’s most coveted free agent, current Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols. Perhaps the Cubs are planning a hard charge for baseball’s best hitter.

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.