Get excited, Cubs fans. For once this year.
According to beat writer Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune, “speculation is” that the Northsiders are preparing to promote 22-year-old first base prospect Anthony Rizzo from Triple-A Iowa in time for Tuesday night’s game against the Mets.
Rizzo has registered a sparkling .355/.416/.722 batting line with 23 home runs and 62 RBI in 67 games this season at Iowa. The Florida native was selected in the sixth round of the 2007 MLB Amateur Draft by the Red Sox, then traded to San Diego in 2010 as part of the Adrian Gonzalez blockbuster. The Cubs acquired him this past winter for flame-thrower Andrew Cashner and outfielder Kyung-Min Na.
Rizzo struggled mightily in his first taste of the majors last season, hitting just .141 with a .523 OPS across 153 plate appearances for the Padres. He’ll hope for much better results in his second MLB experience.
“I don’t think I’ve really been around anyone who has had this much hype,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum told the Tribune on Saturday evening. “”The 30 days or so in spring training, he seemed to be a guy very ahead of the game, maturity-wise. He has all those leadership skills. We’ll all have to be a little bit patient and understand the game is a lot different here than it is in Triple-A. … He’s confident.”
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.