All along the thinking has been that Michael Cuddyer wants to a) stay with the Twins and b) land a three-year deal. According to Jon Heyman, the Twins have done their part, offering the right-handed-hitting outfielder a cool $25 million through 2014. Cuddyer, though, has yet to accept.
With Cuddyer’s return in limbo, the Twins are talking to their backup option, Josh Willingham. Willingham offers a better bet, but he’s not so versatile and he comes with durability concerns. Willingham, likewise, wants a three-year deal, and while he’s a better bet than Cuddyer to be productive in 2014, his history of back problems would make him a risky signing for three years.
One would think Cuddyer will end up accepting the Twins’ offer if $25 million is really where there at. His preference for Minnesota has never seemed like an act, and it’s not as though his market is all that strong. The Phillies pursued him at first, but they’ve backed off, and while a lot of people have tried to propose the Red Sox as a match, it’s doubtful Boston would give him that kind of contract.
Update (5:16 PM ET): ESPN’s Pedro Gomez is reporting that the deal is final.
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.