Nationals add William Howard Taft as new racing president

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The Presidents’ Race at Nationals Park lost a little bit of juice after the Nationals let Teddy win, so the team is hoping that a new addition to the race will keep fans interested. While all sorts of names were thrown around over the past few days, the Nationals have settled on a pretty logical choice to join George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson and Theodore Roosevelt. And no, I’m not talking about Nixon.

Yes, the Nationals have chosen William Howard Taft, the 27th President of the United States. There’s actually a pretty neat baseball tie-in here, as Taft began the presidential tradition of throwing out the ceremonial first pitch on April 14, 1910 at Griffith Stadium in Washington.

Taft and Roosevelt were noted political rivals, so we should see all sorts of choreographed hijinks between the two this year at Nationals Park. Oh, and the team should be pretty good, too.

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.