Red Sox among four teams interested in Francisco Cordero

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UPDATE: Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com reports that Cordero would prefer to return to the Reds.

8:15 PM: ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reported earlier this afternoon that the Red Sox have “increased dialogue” with free agent closer Francisco Cordero. Alex Speier of WEEI.com hears similar information from his sources, but he was also told by Cordero’s agent, Bean Stringfellow, that his list of potential destinations has been narrowed down to four teams who are willing to give multi-year contracts.

“With the interest we’ve received, we’ve been exploring multi-year deals and we’re very confident that’s where we’re going to end up,” said Stringfellow. “The teams that we’ve spoken to, none of them have balked at that of the four remaining clubs.”

Stringfellow wouldn’t confirm the specific teams involved, but Speier writes that the Red Sox, Reds and Angels are believed to be interested. The Reds declined Cordero’s $12 million option for 2012 in late-October, but are interested in bringing the veteran right-hander back at a lesser annual salary.

Cordero, who turns 37 in May, posted a 2.35 ERA and 37 saves in 43 chances this past season, but he also had the lowest strikeout rate and velocity of his career. He at least adapted by increasing his ground ball rate and cutting back on the free passes, but a lucrative multi-year deal could be a big risk.

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.