Demoted Mariners closer Tom Wilhelmsen is starting at Triple-A

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Last night the Mariners demoted closer Tom Wilhelmsen to the minors and today he’s starting a game at Triple-A.

Nothing official has been announced regarding a role change, but Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times writes that the Mariners “will start building Wilhelmsen’s arm up” and see how he looks.

Not only was the demotion a surprise–he has 24 saves and Thursday’s ugly appearance snapped a streak of five straight scoreless outings–Wilhelmsen has never started a game in the majors at age 29 and was never great as a starter in the minors. He last started regularly at Double-A in 2011, posting a 5.49 ERA in 61 innings.

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.