Despite solid spring showing, Mariners option Jesus Montero to Triple-A

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Shannon Drayer of 710 ESPN Seattle reports that Jesus Montero was one of several players optioned to Triple-A Tacoma on Friday. It’s not surprising even though Montero was swinging the bat well in spring training. The former top prospect in the Yankees’ system was slashing .310/.355/.621 with two home runs.

Montero showed up to camp 40 pounds overweight, which did not go over well with GM Jack Zduriencik. The embattled GM said of the embattled catcher, “I have zero expectations for Jesus Montero. Any expectations I had are gone.”

Since joining the Mariners, Montero has posted a .669 OPS in 663 at-bats at the big league level. He tore his meniscus last year, missing just over a month between late May and early July. He was later suspended 50 games for his role in the Biogenesis scandal.

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.