Red Sox leaning toward Jose Iglesias as starting shortstop

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Boston traded away Mike Aviles in the deal for manager John Farrell and the free agent shortstop class is an extremely weak one, so not surprisingly it looks like the Red Sox are planning to have 22-year-old rookie Jose Iglesias as their starting shortstop in 2013.

Nothing is set in stone, of course, but general manager Ben Cherington said acquiring another shortstop is on the “back-burner” behind more pressing needs and Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe writes that Iglesias stepping forward to claim the full-time job “is clearly what they are hoping will happen.”

“We think Jose is ready to help the major league team, depending on what the rest of the team looks like,” Cherington said, adding that “nobody is going to be given anything” and “if he’s given an opportunity to win the job in spring training, then he’ll have to win the job.”

Iglesias is an elite defender capable of making some truly spectacular plays, but there are major questions about his bat. He’s hit just .251 with two homers and a .589 OPS in 189 games at Triple-A and batted .135 in 35 games for the Red Sox.

Diamondbacks, T.J. McFarland avoid arbitration

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Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports reports that the Diamondbacks and reliever T.J. McFarland have avoided arbitration, agreeing on a $1.45 million salary for the 2019 season. McFarland, in his third of four years of arbitration eligibility, filed for $1.675 million while the Diamondbacks countered at $1.275 million. McFarland ended up settling for just under the midpoint of those two figures.

McFarland, 29, was terrific out of the bullpen for the D-Backs last season, finishing with a 2.00 ERA and a 42/22 K/BB ratio in 72 innings. While the lefty may not miss a lot of bats, he does induce quite a few grounders. His 67.9 percent ground ball rate last season was the third highest among relievers with at least 50 innings, trailing only Brad Ziegler (71.1%) and Scott Alexander (70.6%).

McFarland was dominant against left-handed hitters, limiting them to a .388 OPS last season, but the D-Backs deployed him nearly twice as often against right-handed hitters, who posted an aggregate .764 OPS against him. It will be interesting to see if the club decides to use him more as a platoon reliever in 2019.