Joel Zumaya is feeling good

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Zumaya2.jpgBetween Guitar Hero and the San Diego wild fires, there haven’t been many pitchers more snakebit than Joel Zumaya has been these past few years.  But that’s all behind him now, he tells The Detroit News’ Lynn Henning. He’s been training in Florida since the beginning of January and . . . dare we say it?

“That’s why I left my baby son and my wife, because I felt like I
hadn’t given this team enough the past three seasons, and with the
expectations, I want to make this season the best possible year for me
and for this team.  I didn’t want to go back (to California) during the off-season and lay
down in a chair. I just want to be on this team. I want to make this
team, if it’s as a set-up man, a closer, or long relief. I’m feeling great, the best I have in the last 2 1/2 years. I have nothing bothering me.”

He says he understands why Detroit brought in Jose Valverde, but he sees himself closing games again soon.  Henning notes that he’s been throwing 55-60 pitches during his training outings, suggesting that Zumaya might return to starting again. Hey, if Kyle Farnsworth can do it . . .

Fantasies aside, Tigers fans have to like hearing all of that eagerness and hope from Zumaya. The team has a lot of arms hanging around camp this year and could
conceivably get by without Zumaya. But life would be so much easier for
them — and more fun, given his velocity — if Zumaya is truly healthy
again.

Cardinals extend José Martínez through 2020

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First baseman/outfielder José Martínez agreed to a two-year contract extension with the Cardinals on Saturday, per a team announcement. MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reports that Martínez will receive $3.25 million in the deal plus incentives if he earns a more stable place within the starting lineup.

Martínez, 30, played 887 games in the minors before making his major-league debut with the Cardinals at the tail end of the 2016 season. The veteran first baseman has been nothing but productive in the three years since his debut, however, and turned in a career-best performance in 2018 after slashing .305/.364/.457 with 17 home runs, an .821 OPS, and 2.3 fWAR through 590 plate appearances. While he brings some positional flexibility to the table, he’ll be forced to compete against Dexter Fowler and Tyler O'Neill for a full-time gig in right field this year, as Paul Goldschmidt currently has a lock on first base.

According to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the extension wasn’t solely precipitated by Martínez’s productivity in the majors, but by a competing offer from an unnamed Japanese team over the offseason. Goold adds that Martínez would have earned “significantly more than he would in the majors” had the club sold his rights. In the end, they ultimately elected to ink him to a more lucrative deal themselves. He’ll be eligible for arbitration in 2020.