The Phillies clinch a playoff spot

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And now for the most inevitable thing since Newton’s Laws: the Phillies have clinched a playoff spot.

Philadelphia beat the Astros 1-0 today behind Roy Halladay’s first shutout of the season. Indeed, it was the first shutout for any Phillies pitcher this season not named Cliff Lee. Lee has six.  Halladay scattered six hits and struck out seven.  It was his 18th of the year.  The whole game took two hours and six minutes. It’s almost as if these guys had a plane to catch or something.

As Matt Gelb tweeted, this is the earliest the Phillies have ever clinched a playoff spot.  They clinched the pennant in 1915 in 148 games.  Today was the Phillies’ 146th.

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.