In July, Major League Baseball hired former player Billy Bean as the first Ambassador for Inclusion. His job: to work with major and minor league clubs to encourage equal opportunity in accordance with the joint MLB-MLBPA Workplace Code of Conduct, which itself was designed to make baseball more welcoming and inclusive of the LGBT community and to help put an end to sexism, homophobia and prejudice within the world of baseball.
“Ambassador of Inclusion” is not the most conventional title. Indeed, it’s one which, if you’re wearing your cynical cap, you might take as some sort of tokenism. A “Look! We hired a gay former player! Can’t get on our case!” kind of thing.
As Ken Rosenthal reports today, however, it wasn’t that at all. Rosenthal writes about how Major League Baseball came to the conclusion that it needed to be proactive in this arena and that hiring Billy Bean was the right guy for the job. It’s a good read, and I heartily recommend it.
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.