Pat Neshek, A’s avoid arbitration with one-year deal

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Oakland has avoided arbitration with Pat Neshek by signing the reliever to a one-year deal, according to Casey Pratt of CSNBayArea.com.

Neshek spent most of this year at Triple-A in the Orioles’ farm system, but was sold to the A’s in August, got called up to Oakland, and tossed 20 innings with a 1.37 ERA down the stretch.

He also appeared in one playoff game, getting two outs to escape a jam against the Tigers just days after rejoining the team following the death of his new-born son.

From his odd pitching mechanics and frequent interaction with fans online to his difficult comeback from Tommy John surgery and the personal tragedy his family suffered Neshek is someone to root for on and off the field, so it’s nice to see he’ll get an extended opportunity in the majors for 2013.

Report: Red Sox, J.D. Martinez close to a deal

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Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that the Red Sox and outfielder J.D. Martinez are close to a deal. He takes care to note that the deal is not done yet and the details are not known yet.

Martinez, 30, entered the offseason as the top free agent hitter. Last season, between the Tigers and Diamondbacks, he hit a lusty .303/.376/.690 with 45 home runs and 104 RBI in 489 plate appearances. He missed the first 33 games of the season with a sprained right foot; one wonders what his numbers might’ve been like if he hadn’t been injured.

The Red Sox were the team most strongly linked to Martinez throughout the offseason, despite the relatively slow-moving market. Martinez said he wants to play in the outfield and the Red Sox are currently spoken for at all three positions with Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley, and Mookie Betts. Hanley Ramirez is also penciled in at DH. Should the Martinez deal become official, the Red Sox may try to trade Bradley and move Benintendi to center field. If Martinez is willing to concede his outfield wishes, the Red Sox could slot him in at DH and move Ramirez to first base.

The AL East is shaping up to be a familiar two-horse race between the Red Sox and Yankees. The addition of Martinez, in a way, answers the Yankees’ addition of Giancarlo Stanton.