The Rangers have reportedly agreed to a seven-year, $130 million contract with free agent outfielder Shin-Soo Choo. While it was already unlikely that Nelson Cruz was going to return to Texas, this pretty much seals it. So the big question is, where will he land now? Bob Nightengale of USA Today has one guess:
It’s a logical assumption, as the Mariners and Cruz have been linked throughout the offseason. And the Mariners still need to add other parts if they are serious about making a run at things. Still, I wouldn’t rule out the Orioles, as they have been mentioned as a possibility before and they could be compelled to make a big splash amid the nasty fallout from the Grant Balfour situation. Not saying it would be the right course of action, but I could see it.
Cruz turned down a qualifying offer from the Rangers to test free agency, so whoever signs him will have to surrender a draft pick. While there was talk of him potentially getting $75 million just a few weeks ago, that could be a stretch with few obvious fits remaining.
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.