The Mariners could add intrigue to the Masahiro Tanaka sweepstakes

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Japanese pitching star Masahiro Tanaka will be courted by a handful of interested teams, including the Yankees, Dodgers, Cubs, Rangers, and Diamondbacks, but as ESPN’s Andrew Marchand details, it may be the Mariners who emerge victorious by the January 24 deadline.

Marchand cites some reasoning laid out by Dan Szymborski also at ESPN — that Seattle has been a comfortable place for Japanese players in the past and that the team still has money to spend. Marchand adds that Seattle would be closer to Japan than any other location, and that current Mariners starter Hisashi Iwakuma was previously a teammate of Tanaka’s with the Rakuten Golden Eagles.

The Mariners were expected to make at least one more noteworthy move after signing Robinson Cano to a ten-year, $240 million contract, such as trading with the Rays for David Price, or signing free agents Nelson Cruz or Matt Garza, but nothing has materialized other than adding Logan Morrison and Corey Hart. Adding Tanaka would make them a legitimate threat in the AL West.

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.