Blue Jays plan to use Brett Lawrie at second base against right-handed pitchers

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In an effort to keep Juan Francisco’s bat in the lineup, the Blue Jays plan to use Brett Lawrie at second base when they face a right-handed pitcher, Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi reports. Lawrie has logged only 69 defensive innings at second base in his big league career, though he did spend a majority of his minor league career there.

Francisco is off to a hot start, slashing .292/.382/.585 with five home runs and 12 RBI in 18 games since being recalled from Triple-A on April 18. The Blue Jays signed Francisco on April 1, a week after the Brewers released him.

Lawrie hasn’t been nearly as productive at the plate, slashing .229/.276/.407 despite hitting six home runs and knocking in 21 runs. Chris Getz and Ryan Goins will see a reduction in playing time as a result of Lawrie’s move to second base.

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.