The Cubs are watching Jeff Samardzija’s workload

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Jeff Samardzija has had his ups and downs this year, but on the whole his conversion into a starting pitcher has been a nice one for the Cubs. He’s shown he can do the job and looks to be an important part of the rotation for 2013.

But his time in the rotation in 2012 may be drawing to a close due to workload concerns:

President of baseball operations Theo Epstein is watching the innings mount up but has not put a shutdown date for Samardzija yet.

“We’re monitoring things and talking about it, but it is not something we have engaged him on,” Epstein said. “We have just let him go, but we have (the whole staff) talking about it. We will do what is best for him long term.”

How his Cubs teammates will take to seeing him on the bench during the stretch drive and playoffs is an open question.

Oh, wait.

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.