Monday evening signings: Blue Jays, Marlins, A's

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*MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports that the Blue Jays and Ramon Castro have come to terms on a one-year deal worth about $1 million.
The Blue Jays will get nice pop from their $3 million catching duo of John Buck and Castro. The two combined for 15 homers and 61 RBI in 341 at-bats last season. Of course, defense is a question mark, though both have decent enough arms. Castro should have been a starter in his prime, but he was never all that motivated to make it happen. He turns 34 in March, and he hasn’t started more than 40 games in a season since 2005. The Jays will want more from him, so it’ll be interesting to see whether he comes to play.
*The Marlins added RHP Clay Hensley, RHP Scott Strickland, RHP Matt Peterson, INF Brian Barden and INF Donnie Murphy on minor league deals.
All rather familiar names here. Getting Hensley re-signed was something of a priority. The former Padre had a nice 3.24 ERA in 19 starts for Triple-A Albuquerque last season, and he should have a real chance of making the Marlins as a middle reliever. The other candidate to make the team is Barden. He served as a utiltyman for the Cardinals early last season, and he’d make sense as a replacement for Alfredo Amezga next year. The Marlins, though, might go with Emilio Bonifacio as a reserve and decide not to carry a true backup shortstop.
*The A’s signed five minor league free agents: LHP Cedrick Bowers, RHP Fernando Hernandez, RHP Marcus McBeth. RHP Matt Wright and 1B Matt Whitney
McBeth is the pride of this group and the only one to see major league action last season, as he pitched briefly for the Red Sox. The former outfielder was originally an A’s prospect, but he was traded to the Reds for Chris Denorfia in 2007. He had a .269 ERA and a .189 average against as a Triple-A reliever last season, and he’ll probably see some time in the Oakland bullpen next year.

Video: J.D. Martinez hits league-tying 23rd home run

Seattle Mariners v Boston Red Sox
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The Red Sox and Mariners left nothing on the table Friday night, going head-to-head in a series opener that eventually ended 14-10 in the Sox’ favor. Led by Steven Wright and Wade LeBlanc — neither of whom made it past the fifth inning — the teams combined for 34 hits and four home runs, including two moonshots from Seattle’s Nelson Cruz and a five-run rally that gave Boston the edge in the seventh.

In the sixth inning, however, the Red Sox were still scrambling to make up a four-run deficit. Left fielder J.D. Martinez cut it in half with one swing, pouncing on an 89.5-mph fastball from Seattle right-hander Nick Vincent and posting it to dead center field for a two-run shot.

The 427-foot blast was Martinez’s 23rd of the season, tying Mike Trout for the most home runs in the league this year. While he still has a ways to go before eclipsing the career-best 45-HR mark he set in 2017, he’s off to a strong start this season: Entering Friday’s game, the 30-year-old slugger was batting .315/.386/.623 with a 1.009 OPS and AL-leading 55 RBI in 308 PA. He finished Friday’s game 4-for-5 with five RBI, just one triple shy of hitting for the cycle.

Heading into the All-Star Break, both Martinez and Trout still have some competition for the home run title. Jose Ramirez is sitting at 22 homers, while Nelson Cruz and Khris Davis are tied at 20 apiece.