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J.D. Martinez, Xander Bogaerts likely to become free agents after 2019 season

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Evan Drellich of NBC Sports Boston reports that Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts and OF/DH J.D. Martinez are both likely to test free agency following the 2019 season. Bogaerts will naturally reach free agency while Martinez will likely choose to opt out what will be the remaining three years of his five-year, $110 million contract. Both are clients of Boras Corp.

As Drellich points out, Martinez and Bogaerts are likely to be joined in free agency by Rick Porcello and Chris Sale, so the Red Sox have some decisions to make. In fact, that’s exactly the phrase president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski used. He said, “You know you got Bogey in another year. Mookie, Jackie [Bradley, Jr.] in a couple years. So you got some big contracts. And we have great ownership, wherewithal. But still, everybody has some limitations too. So we have to make some tough decisions. But we’ll be prepared to keep a lot of our players, but I’m not sure which ones it’ll end up being as time goes on.”

Bogaerts, 26, is coming off of his best season, batting .288/.360/.522 with 23 home runs, 103 RBI, and 72 runs scored in 580 plate appearances. He also played terrific defense and ran the bases well.

Martinez, 31, is also coming off of a really strong season. He hit .330/.402/.629 with 43 home runs and 111 runs scored while leading baseball with 130 RBI. He did not finish in the top-three in AL MVP Award voting, but many felt he should have been up there.

Bryce Harper played some third base in an intrasquad game

Bryce Harper third base
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Phillies star outfielder Bryce Harper played some third base during Monday’s intrasquad game at Citizens Bank Park, Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports. Harper had been pestering manager Joe Girardi for the opportunity and the skipper finally gave in.

Girardi told Harper, “No diving. And make sure your arm is loose.” Harper had the opportunity to field one ball, a grounder to his left and he made the play perfectly.

Why put Harper at third base? Girardi said, “I think it’s important the guys have fun. I saw him a week ago taking ground balls there and I was impressed. His hands worked well out front and he threw the ball across the field well. I told him, ‘You look good there.'”

Despite the solid showing, don’t expect Harper to show up at third base in a meaningful game anytime soon. That being said, the Phillies’ second and third base situations are still not cemented. Jean Segura will likely open the season at the hot corner with Scott Kingery at second, but things could change between now and Opening Day in 10 days.

Harper, 27, is coming off a solid first season with the Phillies. He hit .260/.372/.510 with 36 doubles, 35 home runs, 114 RBI, 98 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases across 682 plate appearances. Per FanGraphs, Harper’s 4.6 Wins Above Replacement ranked 16th in the National League. For some people, those numbers weren’t nearly good enough, so the expectations remain high as Harper enters year two of his 13-year, $330 million contract.