Cubs promote prospect Kris Bryant to Triple-A

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It’s not quite a promotion to the big leagues, but the Cubs have moved up stud third base prospect Kris Bryant from Double-A to Triple-A after he hit .355 with 22 homers, 20 doubles, and a 1.160 OPS in 68 first-half games.

As recently as a couple weeks ago Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer indicated that the team planned to keep Bryant at Double-A for most and perhaps even all of this season despite his destruction of Southern League pitchers, but those plans have changed. Fittingly, his final act at Double-A was winning the Home Run Derby at the All-Star game Tuesday night.

Bryant was the No. 2 overall pick in last year’s draft after putting up incredible power numbers at the University of San Diego and through 104 professional games he’s hit .348 with 31 homers, 34 doubles, and a 1.132 OPS. If he continues to dominate at Triple-A it’ll be hard for the Cubs to avoid calling the 22-year-old up by September at the latest.

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.