Twins prospect Aaron Hicks goes 4-for-5 with three homers

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It’s been pretty obvious since the Twins traded both Denard Span and Ben Revere this offseason that they want 23-year-old former first-round pick Aaron Hicks to claim the Opening Day job in center field.

Today he probably erased any doubt, going 4-for-5 with three homers, six RBIs, and a stolen base in a split squad game against the Phillies. There’s an argument for sending Hicks to Triple-A for a month or two, in part because he’s never played above Double-A and in part because doing so would give the Twins an extra season of pre-free agency control, but Hicks is making that a tough sell to say the least.

Earlier this week I rated Hicks as the fourth-best prospect in the Twins’ farm system, which says more about the top-end talent they’ve accumulated in recent years than it does about Hicks. He’s a consensus top-100 prospect across baseball and in my write-up I concluded that “if last year’s power development sticks he has a chance to be a star.” Today at least it stuck. Oh, and Hicks homered yesterday 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.