Royals sign Willy Taveras to minor league deal

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Willy Taveras, who hasn’t played in the majors since 2010 and was out of baseball this year, has signed a minor-league deal with the Royals.

Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star reports that Taveras will likely get an invitation to spring training, where he’ll compete for a bench job.

Taveras’ value was always totally dependent on his speed–he had plus range in center field and once stole 68 bases in a season–but now at age 30 it’s unclear what he’d bring to the table. In his final three MLB seasons he hit a combined .243 with a .291 on-base percentage and .290 slugging percentage, and at Triple-A in 2011 he only swiped 13 bases in 97 games.

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.