Squad captain Matt Kemp announced Sunday that he’s chosen the Rockies’ Carlos Gonzalez, the Marlins’ Giancarlo Stanton and the Cardinals’ Carlos Beltran to participate alongside himself in the Home Run Derby.
Kemp plans to take part in the contest, even though he’s still expected to be on the disabled list as he continues his recovery from a hamstring injury. His status for the All-Star Game the following night is still to be determined.
Kemp appears to have bypassed NL home run leader Ryan Braun in choosing his squad. With 22 homers, Braun is two ahead of Beltran, three ahead of Stanton and five ahead of Gonzalez and Jay Bruce on the NL leaderboard. It’s possible Braun opted out of the contest, but there’s been nothing so far to indicate that he did.
The AL squad, which will be picked by Robinson Cano, has yet to be announced.
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.