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Miguel Cabrera’s back could be an issue for the rest of his career

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Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said last night that Miguel Cabrera‘s back problems are likely not something that will just get better and go away. He thinks they’ll be chronic:

“Quite frankly, I think he’s going to have to deal with it the rest of his career. Probably, it’ll come and go. What you don’t want to do is make yourself worse, or create a bad habit that impacts performance or creates another problem.”

This came after Cabrera was held out of the Tigers’ lineup last night, which came a day after leaving Monday’s series opener against the Rockies with lingering lower back tightness. It’s been bothering him since the World Baseball Classic in March and is almost certainly contributing to his career-worst season. The former two-time MVP and Triple Crown winner is batting .253/.339/.406 with only 14 homers and 57 RBI in 113 games.

Cabrera, 34, is owed more than $185 million from the Tigers on a contract that runs through 2023. If the back issues “come” more than “go,” to use Ausmus’ terms, this could wind up being one of the worst contracts in baseball history, at least on the back end.

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.