The Mets might call up top prospect Zack Wheeler this year

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Well, this is a surprise.

Most have assumed that Zack Wheeler’s major league debut will wait until 2013. Odds are it still will, but Mets manager Terry Collins hasn’t ruled out the possibility that it could happen sooner.

According to Brian Costa of the Wall Street Journal, Collins told reporters this afternoon that Wheeler is “not out of the mix” for a promotion to the majors this year. Collins made the comments while discussing Matt Harvey as a potential replacement for Dillon Gee, who had surgery Friday to replace a portion of a damaged artery in his throwing shoulder.

Wheeler, who was acquired from the Giants last July for Carlos Beltran, is on the brink of a promotion to Triple-A Buffalo after posting a 2.62 ERA and 88/35 K/BB ratio in 92 2/3 innings over 15 starts at the Double-A level this year. Baseball America recently ranked him as the No. 10 prospect in the game on their midseason list. The 22-year-old right-hander is quickly approaching his career-high of 115 innings from last year and Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes that he’s expected to be capped around 150 innings. Obviously Collins would love the help at the major league level, but Mets general manager Sandy Alderson could have a different opinion on the matter.

While it would probably take a unique set of circumstances for Wheeler to make his way to the majors this year, Harvey could be up as soon as next week. According to Andy McCullough of the Newark Star-Ledger, Mets manager Terry Collins gave the impression that Harvey’s next start with Triple-A Buffalo on Monday will essentially function as an audition to pitch one week from today against the Dodgers. No pressure, kid.

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.