This year’s class of participants in the Arizona Fall League included some big names like Reds speedster Billy Hamilton and Mariners prospect catcher Mike Zunino, but a lesser-known prospect ended up taking home the league’s Joe Black MVP Award. According to Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com, Rangers first base prospect Chris McGuiness was presented with the award prior to this afternoon’s title game between the Salt River Rafters and Peoria Javelinas.
McGuiness batted .283/.370/.467 with four home runs, five doubles and an .838 OPS over 25 AFL games while leading the league with 27 RBI. The 24-year-old amassed six three-RBI games and seven multi-hit games. Rockies’ third base prospect Nolan Arenado took home MVP honors last year while previous winners include current major leaguers Dustin Ackley, Tommy Hanson and Sam Fuld.
McGuiness, a 13th round pick in 2009, was acquired from the Red Sox in July of 2010 as part of the Jarrod Saltalamacchia deal. He batted .268/.366/.474 with 23 home runs, 77 RBI and an .840 OPS over 123 games with Double-A Frisco this season. While he’s not considered one of the team’s top prospects, his strong performance in the AFL will likely help his case for the Rangers to add him to their 40-man roster in advance of December’s Rule 5 Draft.
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.