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2017 Preview: The National League Central

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the National League Central

It’s the Cubs’ world and we’re all just living in it. But repeats are rare in baseball nowadays, so maybe it’s better to be on “field” than on the Cubs?

That said, who in the division has a real shot at unseating them? No one I can see, even if the Cardinals and Pirates should be competitive.

The Brewers played .500 ball this spring. Which means absolutely nothing, but I thought I’d mention it. As for the Reds, well . . . Cincinnati has some underrated restaurants and you can go across the river to Kentucky and find a super great bourbon selection at a number of stores. Make a day of it.

Our previews of the NL Central teams:

Chicago Cubs
St. Louis Cardinals
Pittsburgh Pirates
Milwaukee Brewers
Cincinnati Reds

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.