Longtime friend of Ryan Braun files lawsuit for defamation

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ESPN is reporting that a longtime friend of Ryan Braun has filed a lawsuit against the Milwaukee slugger. Ralph Sasson alleges that Braun doped while playing for the University of Miami, committed academic fraud, and accepted money while a student. Sasson helped Braun successfully appeal his suspension back in 2011, when the right fielder tested positive.

Sasson alleges Braun violated a non-disclosure agreement when he made “defamatory statements” to undisclosed parties for which Sasson is seeking damages.

Braun is currently serving a season-ending 65-game suspension. His attorney, Howard Weitzman, does not think Sasson’s claims hold water:

“This lawsuit is an unfortunate attempt to capitalize on Ryan’s recent press attention for taking responsibility for his actions. The factual allegations and the legal claims have absolutely no merit. We believe the lawsuit will be dismissed,” he said in a statement.

Sasson also alleges in his lawsuit that Braun asked him to prank call Mark Fainaru-Wada of ESPN’s “Outside the Lines”.

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.