Fantastic news to pass along here, as Adam Rubin of ESPN New York reports that former Cy Young Award winner Frank Viola has fully recovered from open-heart surgery and is ready to serve as the pitching coach for the Mets’ Triple-A affiliate in Las Vegas.
Viola spent the past three seasons as the pitching coach in A-ball with the organization, but he was slated to move up to Triple-A this year. However, he had open-heart surgery on April 2 after an issue was detected during a spring training physical. Viola told Andy Martino of the New York Daily News last month that the surgery functioned as a wake-up call for him, as he has lost 19 pounds and has never felt better. Great to hear.
Viola will represent the Mets at the First-Year Player Draft next Thursday in Secaucus, New Jersey before joining Triple-A Las Vegas on Friday. He’ll be quite a resource for top prospect Noah Syndergaard, who is currently recovering from a flexor pronator strain in his right elbow.
Update (5:16 PM ET): ESPN’s Pedro Gomez is reporting that the deal is final.
Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that the Red Sox and outfielder J.D. Martinez are close to a deal. He takes care to note that the deal is not done yet and the details are not known yet.
Martinez, 30, entered the offseason as the top free agent hitter. Last season, between the Tigers and Diamondbacks, he hit a lusty .303/.376/.690 with 45 home runs and 104 RBI in 489 plate appearances. He missed the first 33 games of the season with a sprained right foot; one wonders what his numbers might’ve been like if he hadn’t been injured.
The Red Sox were the team most strongly linked to Martinez throughout the offseason, despite the relatively slow-moving market. Martinez said he wants to play in the outfield and the Red Sox are currently spoken for at all three positions with Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley, and Mookie Betts. Hanley Ramirez is also penciled in at DH. Should the Martinez deal become official, the Red Sox may try to trade Bradley and move Benintendi to center field. If Martinez is willing to concede his outfield wishes, the Red Sox could slot him in at DH and move Ramirez to first base.
The AL East is shaping up to be a familiar two-horse race between the Red Sox and Yankees. The addition of Martinez, in a way, answers the Yankees’ addition of Giancarlo Stanton.