Chip Hale
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Chip Hale among candidates for Orioles managerial position

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The Orioles are expected to interview at least six candidates for their managerial vacancy, per recent reports from Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. Current candidates include Nationals bench coach and former manager Chip Hale, as well as Royals catching/quality-control coach Pedro Grifol, Diamondbacks farm director Mike Bell, and Cubs bench coach Brandon Hyde.

Following a seven-year career in the majors, during which Hale played second and third base for the Twins and Dodgers, the now- 54-year-old has served multiple stints as a manager and coach to the Diamondbacks, Mets, Athletics, and Nationals. He guided the 2015 and 2016 D-backs to a cumulative 148-176 record and was fired at the end of the 2016 season after the team skidded to their fifth consecutive losing record since making the playoffs in 2011. Following Hale’s departure from the club, he picked up a new role as the A’s third-base coach and lasted a year before signing on with the Nationals as bench coach.

Though a clear frontrunner has yet to be named, it’s assumed that the team will gravitate toward someone with managerial experience. So far, Hale is the only known candidate who previously served as manager to a major-league club, but Rosenthal points out that “new GM [Mike] Elias [is] open-minded” and may prioritize other qualities over direct experience.

Cardinals extend José Martínez through 2020

Jose Martinez
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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.