We heard about the possibility earlier this winter, but now it looks like it’s actually gonna happen. Or so Russell Martin tells FOX Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi, anyway.
Martin, 30, has played nearly 1,000 games in the major leagues — not one as a shortstop. But that’s probably going to be his position when he suits up for Canada at next month’s World Baseball Classic.
“It’s hilarious, the reactions I get,” Martin said Monday at the Pirates’ spring complex. “It’s like, ‘This guy’s a catcher. He wants to play shortstop.’ ”
Martin has never played shortstop in the major leagues, but he was a shortstop and third baseman in high school and college. He has logged 75 1/3 at third base in the major leagues and two innings at second, though he hasn’t started a game in the infield since 2008 as a member of the Dodgers. Still, he wants to give it a whirl since Canada doesn’t have a shortstop with extensive major league experience. While it would be cool to see, it could leave Canada vulnerable behind the plate, as Orioles’ minor leaguer Chris Robinson is the only other catcher on the team’s provisional roster.
While Martin notes that “everybody” in Pirates’ camp is “surprised” about his intention to play shortstop, the team supports his choice to participate in the WBC and make the temporary position switch. The 30-year-old signed a two-year, $17 million contract with Pittsburgh over the winter.
Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that Mets outfielder Yoenis Cespedes will opt out of his contract shortly after the World Series concludes. Cespedes, who earned $17.5 million for the 2016 season, has two years and $47.5 million remaining on his deal which includes an opt-out clause.
That Cespedes plans to opt out isn’t surprising as he’s almost certain to get a better contract entering a weak free agent market. He hit a terrific .280/.354/.530 with 31 home runs and 86 RBI in 543 plate appearances for the Mets this past season.
It remains to be seen how the Mets will deal with potentially losing Cespedes. They can pick up a $13 million club option for Jay Bruce, but he performed terribly after joining the Mets in a trade from the Reds. The Mets could also go after free agents Jose Bautista or Mark Trumbo. Curtis Granderson and Michael Conforto will handle the other two outfield positions.
Major League Baseball announced on Wednesday that former Red Sox DH David Ortiz and Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant won the 2016 Hank Aaron Award in their respective leagues.
Ortiz, 40, flourished in his final season, batting .315/.401/.620 with 38 home runs and 127 RBI in 626 plate appearances during the regular season. His .620 slugging percentage, 1.021 OPS, and 48 doubles led the majors while his 127 RBI led the American League. Ortiz also won the Hank Aaron Award back in 2005.
Bryant, 24, is the likely winner of the National League Most Valuable Player Award as well. He hit .292/.385/.554 with 39 home runs and 102 RBI over 699 plate appearances. He also led the league by scoring 121 runs. Bryant is the first Cub to win the Hank Aaron Award since Aramis Ramirez in 2008.
Last year’s winners in the AL and NL, respectively, were Josh Donaldson and Bryce Harper.