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Report: J.D. Martinez is seeking a contract in the $200 million range

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ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports that free agent outfielder, represented by Scott Boras, is seeking a contract in the range of $200 million.

This time of year, we often hear whispers of what the top free agents are seeking on the total market and it’s often met with derision. Martinez, however, is coming off of an incredible 2017 campaign in which he hit .303/.376/.690 with 45 home runs and 104 RBI in 489 plate appearances between the Tigers and Diamondbacks.

Martinez, 30, was in particular dominant after joining the D-Backs on July 18. He cranked out 29 homers and knocked in 65 runs in 257 PA in the span of 62 games. The Diamondbacks finished 96-66, earning home field advantage against the Rockies in the National League Wild Card game, which they won.

Is Martinez worth $200 million? Yeah, probably. Will he get it? Probably not. Last year, Yoenis Cespedes snagged the largest contract among position players, inking a four-year, $110 million deal with the Mets. He was followed by Dexter Fowler, who signed a five-year, $82.5 million deal. But you always start high in negotiations and work your way towards the middle. In any case, I’d rather see the players get more than they’re worth — which is not the case here — than have the owners pocket more money.

Zack Cozart thinks the way the Rays have been using Sergio Romo is bad for baseball

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The Rays started Sergio Romo on back-to-back days and if that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone. Romo, of course, was the star closer for the Giants for a while, helping them win the World Series in 2012 and ’14. He’s been a full-time reliever dating back to 2006, when he was at Single-A.

In an effort to prevent lefty Ryan Yarbrough from facing the righty-heavy top of the Angels’ lineup (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton), Romo started Saturday’s game, pitching the first inning before giving way to Yarbrough in the second. Romo struck out the side, in fact. The Rays went on to win 5-3.

The Rays did it again on Sunday afternoon, starting Romo. This time, he got four outs before giving way to Matt Andriese. Romo walked two without giving up a hit while striking out three. The Angels managed to win 5-2 however.

Despite Sunday’s win, Cozart wasn’t a happy camper with the way the Rays used Romo. Via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Cozart said, “It was weird … It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.”

It’s difficult to see merit in Cozart’s argument. It’s not like the Rays were making excessive amounts of pitching changes; they used five on Saturday and four on Sunday. The games lasted three hours and three hours, 15 minutes, respectively. The average game time is exactly three hours so far this season. I’m having trouble wondering how else Cozart might mean the strategy is bad for baseball.

It seems like the real issue is that Cozart is afraid of the sport changing around him. The Rays, like most small market teams, have to find their edges in slight ways. The Rays aren’t doing this blindly; the strategy makes sense based on their opponents’ starting lineup. The idea of valuing on-base percentage was scoffed at. Shifting was scoffed at and now every team employs them to some degree. Who knows if starting a reliever for the first three or four outs will become a trend, but it’s shortsighted to write it off at first glance.