Orioles move Brian Roberts to the bottom of the lineup

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Brian Roberts has spent nearly his entire career as a leadoff man, hitting there in 93 percent of his 1,200 starts, but the Orioles have decided to shift him to the bottom of the lineup as he comes back from multiple concussions.

Roberts took the demotion well, basically saying that he’s happy to simply be feeling healthy for the first time in years and understands at age 35 a less prominent role would probably make sense regardless of health.

Of course, if Roberts returns to anything resembling his old form–which included a .364 on-base percentage and 35 steals per 150 games from 2004-2010–the Orioles will want him back atop the lineup soon enough. For now though he’ll bat ninth for the first time since 2004.

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.