The desire to add a left-handed bench bat for the playoffs led the Phillies to sign and quickly release Jack Cust and now they’ve acquired John Bowker from the Pirates for a player to be named later or cash considerations, according to Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com.
Bowker has been at Triple-A for most of this season, hitting .306 with 15 homers and an .830 OPS in 106 games, but the 27-year-old corner outfielder/first baseman has played 228 games in the majors for the Giants and Pirates while hitting just .237 with a .679 OPS.
That includes a .248 batting average and .718 OPS versus right-handed pitching and even at 27 his solid minor-league track record suggests Bowker is capable of more if given another extended opportunity. He won’t get that down the stretch in Philadelphia because his role would be mostly pinch-hitting, but Bowker is a solid low-cost pickup.
And because he’s expected to join the roster today, Bowker will be eligible for the playoffs.
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.