Jeff Samardzija impresses in debut with the Athletics

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Jeff Samardzija, acquired along with Jason Hammel by the Athletics on Friday, impressed in his first start with his new team. Facing the visiting Blue Jays, the right-hander allowed only one run on four hits and a walk while striking out five en route to a win, cinching a four-game series sweep over the Jays.

Samardzija yielded the lone run in the top of the sixth when the Jays put runners on second and third with one out following a Jose Reyes single and a Munenori Kawasaki double. Melky Cabrera followed up with a run-scoring ground out to second base. That was it. Closer Sean Doolittle gave up a run on a lead-off Steve Tolleson home run in the ninth before wrapping up the save.

Mimicking the Cubs, the Athletics didn’t give Samardzija much run support, scoring once in the second inning and twice in the fourth inning. They scored again in the bottom of the eighth, but Samardzija was not the pitcher of record. Samardzija went 2-7 over 17 starts with the Cubs despite posting a 2.83 ERA because the Cubs averaged a league-low 2.28 runs of support, per ESPN. Combining¬†his time with the Cubs and Sunday’s debut with the Athletics, Samardzija is now 3-7 with a 2.74 ERA and a 108/32 K/BB ratio.

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.