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Rays, pitching coach Jim Hickey part ways


Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that pitching coach Jim Hickey and the Rays have mutually agreed to part ways. Hickey had been the Rays’ pitching coach since 2007. Topkin adds that Hickey was under contract for 2018, but both sides felt it was time for a change.

The Rays weren’t particularly disappointing in the pitching department this year. The club allowed 4.35 runs per game in aggregate, the fifth-best mark in the American League and about a third of a run better than the league average.

Given Hickey’s reputation, he should latch on with another team quickly. The Cardinals and Mets are two teams with current openings for a pitching coach.

The Rays are expected to name Kyle Snyder as the new pitching coach and move Charlie Montoyo to bench coach, per Topkin.

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.