The Rangers have checked in on Ryan Madson

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The Rangers signed Joe Nathan to a two-year, $14 million contract in November, but that didn’t stop them from pursuing closer Andrew Bailey before the Athletics traded him to the Red Sox late last month. And now they have checked in on free agent reliever Ryan Madson, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.

I don’t have my Hot Stove handbook with me at the moment, so I’m not sure if “checked in” is closer to “kicked the tires” or “sniffing around,” but most contenders would be smart to give Scott Boras a call considering how Madson’s market has deteriorated since his reported four-year, $44 million deal with the Phillies fell through. The great majority of teams have already settled on closers, so he could end up being a really nice bargain for someone. That said, the Rangers do have some pretty good depth in the back of their bullpen with Nathan, Mike Adams, Koji Uehara and potentially Alexi Ogando.

Madson, 31, posted a 2.37 ERA, 32 saves and a 62/16 K/BB ratio over 60 2/3 innings last season with the Phillies. He has a 2.89 ERA over the last five seasons.

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.