Royals designate Justin Maxwell for assignment

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What a difference a year makes for Justin Maxwell.

Last season the Royals acquired the veteran outfielder from the Astros on July 31 and watched him hit .268 with five homers and an .857 OPS in 35 games down the stretch. They signed him to a one-year, $1.33 million contract to avoid arbitration … and then Maxwell went 4-for-29 (.138) with 15 strikeouts to begin this season.

And today they designated him for assignment.

Maxwell obviously isn’t as bad as he looked in the early going this season and he barely played for the Royals, logging just 32 total plate appearances in 40 team games. He’s a 30-year-old career .225 hitter, but good power and decent plate discipline have led to a .733 OPS that would make him a fit as a fourth outfielder somewhere.

Cardinals shut down Carlos Martínez for two weeks due to shoulder issue

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MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosh reports that the Cardinals are shutting down pitcher Carlos Martínez from throwing for two weeks because his shoulder strength isn’t where it should have been at this point. Langosch added that an MRI showed no structural damage in Martínez’s right shoulder.

Interestingly, president of baseball operations John Mozeliak didn’t sound too happy with Martínez offseason training regimen. Per Mark Saxon of The Athletic, Mozeliak said, “Obviously, there’s a history with Carlos’ shoulder and it would be probably in everybody’s best interest if he maintained a constant or perpetual approach to that program.”

Martínez, 27, battled oblique and shoulder injuries last year. He accrued just 118 2/3 innings, making just 18 starts. He was moved to the bullpen when he returned from the disabled list in August and finished out the season in that role. Still, Martínez managed a 3.11 ERA with 117 strikeouts and 60 walks.

Langosch reported last week that the Cardinals were considering using Martínez in relief again in 2019. The latest news may push the Cardinals to indeed use Martínez out of the bullpen once again. He will be reevaluated in early March, but there is a chance he won’t be ready for Opening Day.