The Cubs restructured their front office a bit on Wednesday, with the departure of Vice President of Player Personnel Oneri Fleita drawing the headlines. That’s undoubtedly the biggest change, given that Fleita brought both Starlin Castro and Carlos Marmol into the organization.
Still, what I found especially interesting was that they dropped both their Manager of Baseball Information, Chuck Wasserstrom, and their Manager of Statistical Analysis, Ari Kaplan. Wasserstrom’s position is being eliminated entirely, as the Cubs have decided that can do without a Baseball Information Manager. One wonders if they’ll re-title Kaplan’s old job, considering those two were the only people in the front office listed as Managers.
Fleita, Wasserstrom and Kaplan were all part of the old guard from before Theo Epstein was brought in last fall. Obviously, Epstein is a believer in statistical analysis, but he’ll want some of his own guys doing work there. Kaplan will remain in the organization for now in a consultant role.
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.