Pirates interested in free agent right-hander Aaron Cook

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We learned earlier this month that Aaron Cook planned to talk to the Padres and Reds, but Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that the Pirates have also expressed interest in the free agent right-hander.

Talks are said to be in the early stages and Brink hears that the Bucs are just one of about a “half dozen” teams in the mix. The Rockies declined Cook’s $11 million option late last month.

Cook has experienced some bad luck with injury over the past two seasons, including a broken leg in 2010 and shoulder tendinitis and a broken ring finger in 2011. The 32-year-old right-hander has a brutal 5.49 ERA during the same time period, so he’ll likely have to accept a one-year deal with a low guarantee.

The Pirates tentatively have Jeff Karstens, Kevin Correia, Charlie Morton, James McDonald and Brad Lincoln lined up for their 2012 rotation, though Morton’s recent hip surgery could put him at risk for missing the early part of the season.

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.