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Report: Paul Molitor expected to manage the Twins in 2018

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Manager Paul Molitor will return on a new contract with the Twins for at least the 2018 season, La Velle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune reports. Nothing is official yet, but CBO Derek Falvey is expected to meet with the media on Friday.

Molitor, 61, completed his third season at the helm of the Twins. The club lost 103 games in 2016, but went 85-77 this past regular season (a 26-game improvement) and won the second slot in the American League Wild Card. They lost 8-4 to the Yankees on Tuesday.

The Twins were the first team to make the playoffs one season after losing 100 games, an achievement shared by Molitor with his talented players.

Molitor earned enshrinement in the Hall of Fame as a player, posting an .817 OPS with 3,319 hits across parts of 21 seasons, three of which were spent with the Twins at the end of his career.

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.