Astros demote RBI leader J.D. Martinez to minors

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I’m not much for evaluating hitters based on RBI totals, but it’s still interesting that the struggling Astros have demoted their RBI leader, J.D. Martinez, to Triple-A after he was their starting left fielder for the first two-thirds of the season.

Martinez has a team-high 54 RBIs in 102 games, although that a) isn’t all that many and b) comes with a measly .235 batting average, 11 homers, and .681 OPS. And those modest season totals include a very strong April, after which Martinez has hit just .222 with a .276 on-base percentage and .352 slugging percentage in 80 games.

Martinez jumped from Double-A to the majors, so the Astros are hoping it’ll be easier for him to work on his swing while playing at Triple-A for the first time and most likely he’ll be back in Houston as a September call-up.

Phillies, Red Sox interested in Carlos Santana

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The Phillies and Red Sox appear intent on pursuing free agent first baseman Carlos Santana, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports. Santana rejected a one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Indians on Thursday and is expected to draw widespread interest on the market this winter. The Mets, Mariners, Angels and Indians could make a play for the infielder, though no serious offers have been made this early in the offseason.

Santana, 31, is coming off of a seven-year track with the Indians. He batted .259/.363/.455 with 23 home runs and 3.0 fWAR last season, making 2017 the fourth-most valuable year of his career to date. Although he was primarily stationed at first base over the last year, he could step back into a hybrid first base/DH role with the Red Sox, who are hurting for infield depth with Hanley Ramirez still working his way back from shoulder surgery.

As for Santana’s other suitors, the Mariners are far less likely to pursue a deal after trading for Ryon Healy last Wednesday. Neither the Mets nor the Phillies have a DH spot to offer the veteran infielder, and the Phillies’ Rhys Hoskins appears to be blocking the way at first base. Then again, Santana may not find a more enticing offer outside of Cleveland, where Edwin Encarnacion might otherwise be the club’s best option at first base. During the GM meetings, Indians’ GM Mike Chernoff said he “love to have both [Santana and Jay Bruce] back” in 2018, but hasn’t backed up that love with any contract talks just yet.