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Top 20 players who will shape AL East race

MLB.com @williamfleitch

If you can believe it, Opening Day is only five weeks away, and we're previewing each division every Wednesday. Baseball is an individual sport masquerading as a team sport, so, thus, we'll be previewing each division by counting down the 20 most pivotal players in the division. These aren't necessarily the best players. They're just the ones whose 2018 performance will be most vital to their teams' success this season, and in seasons moving forward. To keep it fair, we can only pick four players from each team.

Today: The American League East. Tell me what you think -- not just about what you think of this list, but also whom I should not miss when I do the National League West next week -- at will.leitch@mlb.com.

If you can believe it, Opening Day is only five weeks away, and we're previewing each division every Wednesday. Baseball is an individual sport masquerading as a team sport, so, thus, we'll be previewing each division by counting down the 20 most pivotal players in the division. These aren't necessarily the best players. They're just the ones whose 2018 performance will be most vital to their teams' success this season, and in seasons moving forward. To keep it fair, we can only pick four players from each team.

Today: The American League East. Tell me what you think -- not just about what you think of this list, but also whom I should not miss when I do the National League West next week -- at will.leitch@mlb.com.

Previously: NL Central

20. Christian Arroyo, Tampa Bay Rays
Christian Arroyo is an extremely promising third-base prospect who already has 135 at-bats in the Majors and is ranked No. 81 on MLB Pipeline's Top 100 Prospects. I hope Arroyo can remember all those things when Rays fans look over at third base and, for the first time in a decade, see someone other than Evan Longoria there. Not just that, but Longoria is saying that he "feels bad for the Rays' fanbase." So, you know, good luck, kid.

19. Zach Britton, Baltimore Orioles
He's not going to be back for a few months, but by the time he gets back, the Orioles will have a pretty solid idea of whether they're coming or going. Either they're going to need Britton to come back and work himself back into Britton-shape because they're fighting for an American League Wild Card spot, or they'll need him to come back because they're selling hard at the non-waiver Trade Deadline.

Video: Must C Combo: Kiermaier flashes leather, power bat

18. Kevin Kiermaier, Tampa Bay Rays
You can tell pretty well what kind of baseball fan you're talking to when you discuss Kiermaier. Your FanGraphs obsessive thinks he's one of the best, and certainly one of the most underrated, players in the game. Your usual baseball-card-stat fan is totally baffled at what all the fuss is about.

17. Randal Grichuk, Toronto Blue Jays
Did the Blue Jays just get themselves a cost-controlled power bat, one who can play center field, on the cheap? After trading for Marcel Ozuna, the Cardinals didn't have a place for Grichuk, so they sent him to Toronto for reliever Dominic Leone, and Grichuk might be exactly the right fielder the Blue Jays were searching for. He strikes out way too much, and he's probably never going to be a consistent on-base threat, but he's under club control through 2020, plays the outfield like a dream, and if you make a mistake pitch to him, he will pulverize it.

16. Chris Davis, Baltimore Orioles
The Orioles are making a last-ditch, all-in mad dash in the AL East this year, and while some might question the wisdom of such a maneuver, heck, the world was never made worse by people doing everything they can to win. (Note: The world is in fact always made worse this way.) If the Orioles are going to hang in, they're going to need all the offensive firepower they can muster, so it might be handy if the guy they still owe $127 million to could start launching bombs again.

15. Willy Adames, Tampa Bay Rays
You can forgive Rays fans for growing a bit exhausted with the "when our stud prospects get here, it's gonna be a different story, you'll see!" game, but the waiting game for Adames, the No. 22 prospect in the game according to MLB Pipeline, may still be worth it. Not only does Adames have all the tools, he's one of those makeup machines, the instant team leader everyone is always looking for, particularly out of the shortstop position.

14. Kevin Gausman, Baltimore Orioles
He is the next in a long line of talented Orioles starters to never quite put it together in Baltimore, and there is always the fear he will leave town and immediately turn into Jake Arrieta. Gausman was healthy all of last season, which means he's ostensibly Baltimore's ace, but his skills have never quite translated into top-tier success. Which means the rest of baseball is ready to buy low.

13. Rick Porcello, Boston Red Sox
When the Red Sox signed Porcello to a four-year contract extension before the 2015 season, they didn't think they were getting an AL Cy Young Award winner, any more than they thought they were signing a bust. The first two years of the deal, they've gotten both. Porcello led the Majors in wins in 2016, and losses in '17; that's pretty difficult to do. Somewhere in the middle would be just fine for Boston, particularly now that he's just a fourth starter.

Video: Stroman, Gibbons on Stroman losing arbitration

12. Marcus Stroman, Toronto Blue Jays
For all the talk of Stroman's unpleasant arbitration experience, there isn't much evidence that contentious arbitrations cause any sort of damage, short or long term. Good thing, because despite whatever they said in that room to Stroman, the Blue Jays desperately need Stroman to keep pitching like the ace he nearly was in 2017. It's almost impossible to see a way for the Blue Jays to contend without Stroman at least duplicating his '17 season.

Tweet from @MStrooo6: Just being real. Not mad at all. I???????????????????????????m aware of the business. Just opens your eyes going through the arbitration process. Second time going through it. Still love my team and the entire country of Canada. More upset that I had to fly to AZ and miss my Monday workout. Lol

11. Greg Bird, New York Yankees
It's funny to think that the young Yankees player everyone was excited about heading into 2017 wasn't Judge: It was Bird. After his horrendous start, he came on late, and the Yankees felt comfortable enough with him that they avoided any first-base free agent temptations. If Bird is fully locked and loaded, this lineup is even more terrifying that it already is. And if not: The Yankees will not lack for options.

* * * * *

Halftime break! AL East mascots, ranked!

1. The Oriole Bird
The name could use some work, but otherwise, the perfect Oriole color scheme makes for a perfect baseball bird mascot. He's such a pretty bird that we'll ignore that he's naked. (The other bird in the division is far more modest.)

2. Raymond Ray
Discovered by fishermen who noticed he was drawn to the boat by the smell of hot dogs, Raymond Ray looks a little like a character in "The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou."

3. Ace
Blue Jays are actually quite aggressive birds, but Ace is pretty chill, all told. He does get points for being an improvement on the old BJ Birdy, who looked insane and had a redundant name.

4. Wally the Green Monster
All mascots are for kids, but I might humbly submit that Wally is maybe a little too scary for kids.

5. Unknown Yankees Mascot
The Yankees famously do not have a mascot, though in a pinch, Justice Sonia Sotomayor would make a pretty great one.

Gif: Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor in Judge's Chambers

* * * * *

10. Masahiro Tanaka, New York Yankees
Tanaka's peripheral numbers suggest that if he's not an ace, he's No. 2-starter material at least. He has a terrific K/BB ratio (the best on the team), and his season ERA was inflated by a dreadful May (8.42 ERA). Tanaka at his worst is still a rotation mainstay, and he is the one guy in the rotation who should be better but, in 2017, just wasn't.

9. Xander Bogaerts, Boston Red Sox
In the 2013 World Series, when most of us were first seeing Bogaerts, it appeared we were looking at the next great superstar. It hasn't worked out that way, with Bogaerts never becoming that superstar -- and even taking a big step back in 2017, dropping to only 10 homers and losing 21 points in batting average. He's still only 25 years old, though, and the talent is still all there. If this is his breakout season, the Red Sox lineup could be scarier than you think.

8. Roberto Osuna, Toronto Blue Jays
What was up with Osuna last year? He struck out 11.7 batters per nine innings. He dropped his walk rate for the third straight year. He gave up only three homers in 64 innings pitched. He had a 0.859 WHIP. Those numbers look totally dominant, right? So how in the world did Osuna blow 10 saves? If the results match the skills, the Blue Jays will have the ninth inning on lockdown.

7. Chris Archer, Tampa Bay Rays
Essentially the last man standing at this point, right? Now that the Rays' rebuild seems imminent, there's not much reason to keep Archer around, particularly when there isn't a team in baseball (save for the Rays, apparently!) who couldn't use a cost-controlled ace who's also charismatic and fun. If the Rays want to fully restock their farm system, Archer and closer Alex Colome are surely the next (and maybe last) to go.

6. Manny Machado, Baltimore Orioles
One of the many enticing aspects of trading for Machado in the offseason -- as many, many teams tried to do -- was the sense that he's going to erupt in this, his contract year. Machado had an unfortunate 2017, but he still had his moments, and he clearly has talent to burn everywhere. He'll be at shortstop this year and eager to impress potential free-agent suitors. How long he's in Baltimore may depend on how long the Orioles can hang around the race; the minute those leaks trickle out about "the O's are listening to offers on Machado," this is instantly the biggest story in the sport.

5. J.D. Martinez, Boston Red Sox
All right, so now that he's finally here, now what? The long, slow, pained offseason seduction between the Red Sox and Martinez finally consummated this week, at a reasonable price for the Red Sox and, of course, a fortune for Martinez. But there is an extended, sordid history of expensive free agents coming into Boston and being eaten alive almost immediately; remember, the Red Sox will still be paying Pablo Sandoval $18.5 million next season. Martinez is no Sandoval, but Red Sox fans have a way of eyeing a new guy warily for a while when he shows up in town. The upside is obviously huge, but remember: They were mocking poor Jack Clark in The Town 20 years after he signed.

Video: Ian Browne discusses J.D. Martinez signing

4. David Price, Boston Red Sox
Speaking of big, expensive Red Sox free agents whom the town quickly turned on. Price is only two years into his $217 million deal, and he spent most of his 2017 either in the bullpen, hurt, feuding with Dennis Eckersley or being hissed at by Beantown faithful. Just five years to go! Price apparently isn't too sore about his time in Boston so far; he was one of the main ambassadors selling Martinez on the place. But he has an opt-out after this season if he wants to use it, but that would require exactly the sort of year the Red Sox were paying him for in the first place.

3. Josh Donaldson, Toronto Blue Jays
A little like Archer and Machado, but Donaldson's far more fascinating than those two. Unlike them, he:

A: Is beloved by the fan base and actively interested in signing an extension;
B: Has nevertheless been unable to come to terms on one;
C: Is on a team that has a chance to contend for an AL Wild Card this year;
D: Could still be dealt, even through gritted teeth, at the non-waiver Trade Deadline;

What are the Blue Jays going to do with Donaldson? Merely the whole next decade of the franchise might rely on the answer.

1 and 1a, Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge, New York Yankees
It is a big story that one of these massive humans exist. It's a bigger story that they both exist. It's an even bigger story that they're on the same team. Now add to the mix that their team is the Yankees -- a club that seemed to have lost its swagger but now has it back a thousandfold. In retrospect, it seems inevitable that these two wooly mammoths are in the same lineup, in the Bronx, secured now to spend their most formidable years together. They're the primary reasons to hate the Yanks again, which, of course, means the Yankees are, once again and at last, completely unmissable. They're the biggest story in baseball this year, and one of the biggest stories in sports. Who doesn't want to see what happens here? I cannot wait.

Video: Judge, Stanton could lead Yanks to back-to-back mark

* * * * *

We finish this preview, as we will with all of them, with predictions. I apologize in advance because these predictions are guaranteed to be correct and thus I'm a little worried I'm spoiling the season for you.

New York Yankees: 92-70
Boston Red Sox: 90-72
Toronto Blue Jays: 82-80
Baltimore Orioles: 74-88
Tampa Bay Rays: 69-93

Will Leitch is a columnist for MLB.com.

Duquette on Moose, Lynn, Cobb & more

MLB.com analyst answers fans' questions about free agents, more
MLB.com

The free-agent market has started to pick up as Spring Training camps have opened, but many big names are still without a home. Here to provide some insight on that situation and more is MLB.com analyst Jim Duquette, who fielded fans' questions on Twitter at @Jim_Duquette on Tuesday.

Check out his answers below. (Questions have been edited for clarity.)

The free-agent market has started to pick up as Spring Training camps have opened, but many big names are still without a home. Here to provide some insight on that situation and more is MLB.com analyst Jim Duquette, who fielded fans' questions on Twitter at @Jim_Duquette on Tuesday.

Check out his answers below. (Questions have been edited for clarity.)

Where do you see Mike Moustakas ending up?
-- @Ben_Yoel

Already with fewer potential landing spots this year than he might have next offseason, Moustakas seemingly lost another suitor when the Yankees acquired Brandon Drury from the D-backs in a three-team trade Tuesday night. The move increased the likelihood that Moustakas will remain in the American League Central by signing with the White Sox, who have Matt Davidson and Yolmer Sanchez slated to man the hot corner in 2018, with '17 No. 11 overall Draft pick Jake Burger a couple years away from being a viable option. But don't count out the Royals -- the only professional franchise Moose has ever known. Although general manager Dayton Moore has said the club doesn't plan to pursue any other costly free agents after losing Eric Hosmer to the Padres, I wouldn't be surprised if Kansas City jumped back into the discussions.

Video: Richard Justice on Mike Moustakas' free agency

Do you think Corey Dickerson would be a good fit in Houston?
-- @Rpage51

A few teams will be interested in Dickerson after the Rays designated him for assignment, but the Astros might not be one of them. Houston has Evan Gattis at designated hitter and can play any of Marwin Gonzalez, Derek Fisher and Jake Marisnick in left field. The Astros also have one of baseball's top outfield prospects in Kyle Tucker waiting in the wings. Dickerson performed well against lefties and righties last season, and he is a better defender than many think, so teams shouldn't have qualms about playing him regularly. He's a good fit for the Braves, Pirates and Orioles.

Is anyone interested in Lucas Duda?
--@PJ_Buckley

As is the case with many free agents, the market for Duda has been slow this offseason. But with strong power (lifetime .215 ISO) and a strong grasp of the strike zone (career 11.5 percent walk rate), he could be a valuable piece for many lineups. The same goes for Logan Morrison, who is a similar player and has also had trouble finding a deal this offseason. Either would fit well with the Royals or the Rays.

Are the Orioles done, or will they sign Lance Lynn or Alex Cobb?
-- @wvwllw

The Orioles would like to find another starter after missing out on a chance for a significant upgrade by acquiring Jake Odorizzi from the Rays. They are one of a handful of teams still actively searching for rotation help, along with the Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Dodgers and Rangers. The latter five clubs are more likely to pursue Cobb, Lynn or even Jake Arrieta, while the Orioles seem to be focused on pitchers from the next tier of hurlers, such as R.A. Dickey.

Video: Phillies and Arrieta are 'having a dialogue'

Who gets more playing time at first base for the Mets this year: Adrian Gonzalez or Dominic Smith?
-- @MJMets

At the moment, Gonzalez appears likely to receive more playing time early in the season. But in the end, I believe Smith will see more at-bats -- he's in much better physical shape than his veteran counterpart, and his struggles last September may have been related to fatigue, as he played 163 games between the Majors and Minors. Smith was never a big strikeout guy on the farm, so he should be able to improve upon last year's 26.8 percent whiff rate with more experience against big league pitching.

Jim Duquette, who was the Mets' GM in 2004, offers his opinions as a studio analyst and columnist for MLB.com.

Angels acquire Blash from Yankees

MLB.com @mi_guardado

TEMPE, Ariz. -- The Angels expanded their outfield depth on Wednesday by acquiring Jabari Blash from the Yankees in exchange for a player to be named or cash considerations. To clear a spot on the 40-man roster, the club transferred Alex Meyer, who is recovering from right shoulder surgery, to the 60-day disabled list.

The Yankees designated Blash for assignment after acquiring Brandon Drury as part of a three-team trade with the D-backs and Rays on Tuesday. Blash is known for his immense power, but the 28-year-old has struggled to translate that skill to the Majors, batting .213 with a .675 OPS, five home runs and 66 strikeouts over 195 plate appearances with the Padres in 2017.

TEMPE, Ariz. -- The Angels expanded their outfield depth on Wednesday by acquiring Jabari Blash from the Yankees in exchange for a player to be named or cash considerations. To clear a spot on the 40-man roster, the club transferred Alex Meyer, who is recovering from right shoulder surgery, to the 60-day disabled list.

The Yankees designated Blash for assignment after acquiring Brandon Drury as part of a three-team trade with the D-backs and Rays on Tuesday. Blash is known for his immense power, but the 28-year-old has struggled to translate that skill to the Majors, batting .213 with a .675 OPS, five home runs and 66 strikeouts over 195 plate appearances with the Padres in 2017.

San Diego traded Blash to New York for Chase Headley in December.

Mike Trout, Justin Upton and Kole Calhoun are projected to comprise the Angels' starting outfield this year, with veteran Chris Young serving as the backup, so Blash is likely to open the season at Triple-A Salt Lake.

Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Los Angeles Angels, New York Yankees, Jabari Blash

Pence stays upbeat in face of uncertainty

Veteran outfielder moving from RF to LF in last year of contract
MLB.com @sfgiantsbeat

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Fascinated by the mindset of a kid who was an incurable optimist, child psychologists locked the youth in a room full of horse, uh, waste. Pretty soon, the kid began burrowing through the filth. The child's explanation: "I figured if there was this much horse stuff, there had to be a horse somewhere!"

That pretty much summarizes Hunter Pence's approach.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Fascinated by the mindset of a kid who was an incurable optimist, child psychologists locked the youth in a room full of horse, uh, waste. Pretty soon, the kid began burrowing through the filth. The child's explanation: "I figured if there was this much horse stuff, there had to be a horse somewhere!"

That pretty much summarizes Hunter Pence's approach.

By various measures, Pence's performance for the Giants has declined markedly the past three seasons. His offensive WAR, a respectable 4.0 in 2014 according to Baseball-Reference.com, plummeted to 1.0 in 2015, settled at 2.2 the following season and dipped to 0.6 last year. His OPS of .701 and OPS+ of 86 in 2017 were career lows.

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

Moreover, Pence faces potential distractions. His five-year, $90 million contract expires after this season, leaving his future uncertain. To accommodate Andrew McCutchen's arrival, Pence must move to left field, where he has never played in 1,510 games spanning 11 seasons.

And Pence is toiling for a Giants club that's coming off a 64-98 season.

Spring Training info | Tickets

Pence typically regards such ominous, negative factors as so much ... well, horse stuff. He sounded thrilled about the potential that this season holds.

"We all put in the work this offseason because we want to make a change," Pence said. "We want to make the adjustment, and we're excited to get back together and get that opportunity. It feels good. It feels fresh to be here."

The challenge of moving to left field, where he must master strange acreage and unfamiliar barriers, doesn't faze Pence in the least.

"It's fun to kind of see a different angle," said Pence, 34. "It's going to be fun to go to all the ballparks and look at all the different walls. ... It feels invigorating to get the opportunity to do that."

Video: Giants welcome new additions to team

Pence has experienced this sort of change, though much time has passed. After playing primarily center field as a rookie in 2007 with Houston, he shifted to right the following year and has remained there since, with the exception of an inning in center for the Giants in 2014.

Pence reasoned that, to a considerable degree, playing left will resemble handling right. For example, in left, a pull-hitting right-handed batter will hook pitches foul, just as left-handed batters did in right.

"I don't think this transfer is as tough as moving from center to one of the corners," Pence said. "I think that's a lot different than going from a corner to a corner."

Tweet from @SFGiants: Time to get to work. @hunterpence | #SFGPhotoDay 📷 pic.twitter.com/XtHvGukLXy

Many Giants and most fans probably would prefer to forget 2017. Pence, who frequently sounds more like a philosopher than a ballplayer, considered it a source of growth.

"We have to make the adjustment and take the gifts that failures bring. The gift of fueling the fire," he said. "The gifts of working a little different, [paying] attention to the details, getting back to the grit and the work, and remembering what it was that we did to succeed."

Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast.

San Francisco Giants, Hunter Pence

Lindor on WS ring: 'We're going after it'

All-Star shortstop looks to get Tribe over postseason hump
MLB.com @MLBastian

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Francisco Lindor had not stopped thinking about the Indians' early exit from the October stage last season. The star shortstop still has a pit in his stomach at the thought of how close they came to winning the World Series two years ago.

This spring, one word is on Lindor's mind.

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Francisco Lindor had not stopped thinking about the Indians' early exit from the October stage last season. The star shortstop still has a pit in his stomach at the thought of how close they came to winning the World Series two years ago.

This spring, one word is on Lindor's mind.

"Finish," Lindor said. "I want to finish."

Indians Spring Training: Info | Tickets | Schedule

That is what is driving Lindor this spring and what will continue to run his internal motor throughout the 2018 season. The Indians had a 3-1 lead against the Cubs in the 2016 Fall Classic, and lost. They had a 2-0 advantage over the Yankees in the American League Division Series last year, and lost. Lindor, and the teammates who were a part of those teams, do not want those defeats to define this group.

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

Lindor was asked about all that the Indians did accomplish last year. They won a second straight AL Central crown and ended with 102 victories, representing only the third time in the franchise's long, storied history that a team hit the century mark. The Tribe rattled off an AL-record 22 consecutive victories across August and September.

Lindor shook his head.

"When you don't win, that's what you remember the most," he said. "To me, last year was fun. We had a great year. But to me, it wasn't a successful season. I want to win. That's not a successful season, because we didn't finish. We were healthy and we learned a lot from what we went through in the season, and we're blessed. But, we didn't win. At the end of the day, it's a season you don't remember."

After the Indians were eliminated by the Yankees in October, Lindor took about a month off from his training. He said he did not watch any of the subsequent postseason games in full -- just an inning here or there. Lindor allowed himself to turn on the World Series a few times, if only to toss a few more logs on his internal fire.

"It's tough for you to live without baseball," Lindor said. "You definitely don't want to finish your season like that. I'm still hurt about it."

How hurt?

"It's like the girlfriend that you break up with. You never get over it," he said. "You turn the page, but you can't get over it. You always remember that she was there."

One of the highlights of last season came in Game 2 of the ALDS, when Lindor belted a grand slam that electrified Progressive Field and helped put the Indians in position to win that classic game, 9-8, in 13 innings. Lindor is quick to point out that it was just one of two hits he had in the entire series.

"We were nine innings from moving on," Lindor said. "I didn't perform and I didn't help my team."

So, when November came around, Lindor focused on his training.

He worked out with Hall of Famer Barry Larkin and a handful of current big leaguers, as he has in offseasons past. Lindor did some boxing each week. He lifted. He took batting practice and gloved grounders at his old high school, Montverde Academy in Florida. With every drill, he kept his mind on his ultimate goal of helping lead Cleveland to its first World Series title since 1948.

Lindor was the runner-up for the AL Rookie of the Year Award in 2015. He won both Gold and Platinum Glove Awards for his defense prowess at shortstop in '16. Last year, Lindor belted 33 home runs, piled up 81 extra-base hits and walked away with an AL Silver Slugger Award, and he was fifth in voting for the AL Most Valuable Player Award. He has been an All-Star in each of his two full seasons.

What Lindor really wants is to get fitted for a World Series ring.

"We ain't curling up, I guarantee you that," Lindor said. "We're going after it, man. We want to win. I want to win. There's no one here saying we don't want to win. Everybody wants to win and finish the thing."

Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and Facebook.

Cleveland Indians, Francisco Lindor

Cuban prospect Martinez granted free agency

Outfielder, 21, can sign with MLB club as soon as March 6
MLB.com @benweinrib

One of the top Cuban players is a step closer to signing with a big league team, as Major League Baseball cleared 21-year-old outfielder Julio Pablo Martinez to become a free agent on Tuesday, MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez reported.

At 5-foot-10, 180 pounds, Martinez has a promising combination of power and speed from the left side, and he can sign as soon as March 6. However, because he is under 23, he will be subject to international signing rules.

One of the top Cuban players is a step closer to signing with a big league team, as Major League Baseball cleared 21-year-old outfielder Julio Pablo Martinez to become a free agent on Tuesday, MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez reported.

At 5-foot-10, 180 pounds, Martinez has a promising combination of power and speed from the left side, and he can sign as soon as March 6. However, because he is under 23, he will be subject to international signing rules.

Martinez can sign before the current signing period ends on June 15, but depending on which team he chooses, he may opt to sign during the 2018-19 period, which begins on July 2. According to Sanchez, the Yankees, Rangers and Marlins are favorites to sign Martinez, and New York and Miami would likely prefer to wait until the next period.

Top 30 International Prospects list

The Rangers were finalists for Japanese two-way star Shohei Ohtani and had the largest remaining bonus pool to offer him -- most of which has gone unspent since he elected to sign with the Angels. Texas further bolstered its spending power by trading Minor League right-hander Miguel Medrano to the Reds for international pool money on Wednesday.

Teams may trade for up to 75 percent of their original bonus pool allocation to increase their offer for Martinez. But it's worth noting that 12 teams -- the Astros, Athletics, Braves, Cardinals, Cubs, Dodgers, Giants, Nationals, Padres, Reds, Royals and White Sox -- cannot offer more than $300,000 this signing period after exceeding their bonus pool in the last two years.

Martinez earned spots on Cuba's 18U junior team in 2014 and '15. More recently, he played in the Cuban Serie Nacional during the '16-17 season and posted a .333/.469/.498 slash line with six home runs and 24 stolen bases in 61 games.

Martinez is considered to have the talent to start in Class A Advanced or Double-A once he signs with a team. However, his first assignment would depend on the team he chooses, and if they want to ease him into professional ball stateside.

Ben Weinrib is a reporter for MLB.com based in Cleveland. Follow him on Twitter at @benweinrib.

J.D. arrives at camp without official deal

Special to MLB.com

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The official announcement of power hitter J.D. Martinez, and his much-needed bat for the middle of Boston's lineup, will have to wait at least another day.

After the 30-year-old free agent reportedly agreed to terms on a $110 million, five-year contract on Monday, he was seen walking into JetBlue Park just before 8 a.m. ET on Wednesday for his physical.

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The official announcement of power hitter J.D. Martinez, and his much-needed bat for the middle of Boston's lineup, will have to wait at least another day.

After the 30-year-old free agent reportedly agreed to terms on a $110 million, five-year contract on Monday, he was seen walking into JetBlue Park just before 8 a.m. ET on Wednesday for his physical.

Red Sox Spring Training: Info | Tickets | Schedule

A club spokesperson said just after 4:30 p.m. that there would be no announcement because the physical results were not in yet.

In the clubhouse, it looked like the spot for his locker was ready -- there was an empty one in between Dustin Pedroia and Hanley Ramirez's lockers.

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

Left-handed pitcher David Price, Martinez's former teammate in Detroit, was gushing over the work the power hitter puts in each day.

"Him and Victor [Martinez] would hit all day long," Price recalled. "Victor was the DH and J.D. was right field. They'd get to the field early, hit in the cage and go out for BP. Then when BP was over, they'd go back to the cage and be in the cage again before the game.

"He takes a lot of swings. He's always working ... turned himself into a really good hitter."

Martinez wields the type of pure power bat the Red Sox missed so much in 2017 -- David Ortiz's first year in retirement. He belted 45 homers last year in just 432 at-bats.

His hard work has paid off after he was released by the Houston Astros in 2014. In the 520 games since Houston let him go, he has produced a line of .300/.362/.574 with 128 homers and 350 RBIs.

Boston's move to get Martinez was dictated by both finishing last in the American League with just 168 homers last season, and seeing the rival Yankees acquire Major League home run king Giancarlo Stanton in a trade from the Miami Marlins during the offseason.

"We're all excited to be able to add a hitter like that, especially in this division with the Yankees making a move themselves," Price said.

It's likely ramped up the rivalry, too.

Video: Benintendi talks Martinez's arrival to Red Sox camp

"I just know both teams are going to be really good," outfielder Mookie Betts said. "It seems like the rivalry is going to be like a slugfest on both sides."

Price also felt like Martinez will fit in fine into Boston's high-volume atmosphere of media coverage of the team.

"Yeah, he's got my vote. He's different than me," the lefty said. "We didn't talk anything about baseball. Me and J.D. have continued to be friends ever since we were teammates in Detroit. We've always continued to check in on each other."

And Price even offered some advice for his friend.

"Go play baseball. Go be yourself," he said. "Go be the hitter you've been since, I think, it was 2014 when he had that breakout season in Detroit. He's a great dude, he's quiet and is going to go about his business and he's going to hit a lot of homers for us."

Ken Powtak is a contributor to MLB.com who covered the Red Sox on Wednesday.

Boston Red Sox, J.D. Martinez

Cashman: Initial plan is to have Drury play 3B

Yankees GM, Boone excited to bring versatile infielder aboard
Special to MLB.com

TAMPA, Fla. -- Yankees general manager Brian Cashman had D-backs infielder Brandon Drury on his radar for years. He was finally able to get his target, obtaining Drury on Tuesday in a three-way trade that also included the Rays.

"He is someone I think the industry has valued for a while because I know we have," Cashman said.

TAMPA, Fla. -- Yankees general manager Brian Cashman had D-backs infielder Brandon Drury on his radar for years. He was finally able to get his target, obtaining Drury on Tuesday in a three-way trade that also included the Rays.

"He is someone I think the industry has valued for a while because I know we have," Cashman said.

Yankees Spring Training information

After hearing rave reviews regarding Drury from new Yankees third-base coach Phil Nevin, who coached in Arizona from 2014-16, Cashman ramped up discussions with D-backs GM Mike Hazen during the Winter Meetings. Once Hazen brought the Rays into the discussion about 10 days ago, the trade came together quickly.

As part of that deal, the D-backs received outfielder Steven Souza Jr. and Yankees pitching prospect Taylor Widener. The Rays received Yankees infielder Nick Solak, New York's No. 8 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, pitcher Anthony Banda, Arizona's No. 4 overall prospect, and a pair of players to be named.

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Drury was expected to arrive at Yankees camp Wednesday.

Cashman was extremely high on the prospects that he ended up having to part with, noting that he had previous talks with the Rays -- along with "about 10 to 15 other teams" -- regarding Solak.

"We gave up two players that we really liked," Cashman said. "I think both of these players have a lot of upside."

The 25-year-old Drury batted .267 with 13 homers and 63 RBIs in 135 games last season as the D-backs' primary second baseman. He has also logged time at third and in the corner outfield positions over his three seasons.

Video: How Yanks will deploy Drury, Andujar and Torres in IF

"Hopefully he is one of those guys we can help take another step and make even more of an impact than he has already been," manager Aaron Boone said.

In three years in Arizona, Drury compiled a .271 average with 31 home runs in 289 games. Drury has shown the ability to drive the ball to all fields, as he has proven with 68 doubles over the past two seasons, and can hit against both lefties and righties (.271 vs. .266). A jump in power numbers is likely as he continues to fill out his 6-foot-2, 210-pound frame and continues to improve on his average exit velocity (87.9 in 2017) for a third consecutive year.

"We believe there is some more gas in that tank," Cashman said. "Our pro scouts are really high on his potential to dream on a little bit, so we are going to dream on a little bit. At the very least, we are happy with where he is at and what he is capable of."

"I think there is power in there, which he has already shown at the big league level," Boone said. "But I think his athleticism will allow him to potentially take another step. This is a guy that has had success already, but hasn't had a regular role and I think he has that opportunity here."

Video: Hoch on the Yankees landing Drury in trade

Cashman said the initial plan is to use Drury at third base, where he played throughout the Minors, but because of his versatility and athleticism, plus what he could potentially do offensively, the Yankees would like to get him in to the lineup however they can.

"This guy has the ability to be more than just a quality everyday player," Cashman said. "He's got a lot of potential. He's established himself as a quality Major Leaguer and I know he has dreams to be even more."

Whether Drury sees more time at either second or third could also depend on the spring performances of rookies Gleyber Torres, who was an early camp favorite to win the keystone job, and Miguel Andujar, who was in line to take over at the hot corner. Torres, the team's No. 1 overall prospect, batted .309 in 23 games at Triple-A last season. Despite the addition of Drury, the team remains high on the 22-year-old Andujar after he hit .315 with 16 homers and 82 RBIs in 125 games over two Minor League stops last season.

"It just adds to the competition," Boone said. "It adds to the depth of competition that we want to create with our infield this spring. Nothing changes as far as Miguel Andujar is concerned for us. He's still going to have opportunities. There's still a level of competition still going on and I still feel great about the player."

J. Scott Butherus is a contributor to MLB.com.

New York Yankees, Miguel Andujar, Brandon Drury, Gleyber Torres

Sources: Rays sign Gomez to one-year deal

MLB.com @wwchastain

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- The Rays wasted little time in addressing their void in right field, agreeing with Carlos Gomez on an incentive-laden one-year, $4 million deal, sources tell MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez. The Rays have not confirmed the report

A day after trading Steven Souza Jr. and four days after trading Jake Odorizzi and designating 2017 All-Star Corey Dickerson for assignment, the Rays were in a buying mood on Wednesday. Gomez will provide an intriguing power-speed combination to an outfield corner.

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- The Rays wasted little time in addressing their void in right field, agreeing with Carlos Gomez on an incentive-laden one-year, $4 million deal, sources tell MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez. The Rays have not confirmed the report

A day after trading Steven Souza Jr. and four days after trading Jake Odorizzi and designating 2017 All-Star Corey Dickerson for assignment, the Rays were in a buying mood on Wednesday. Gomez will provide an intriguing power-speed combination to an outfield corner.

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Following Tuesday night's Souza trade, Rays GM Erik Neander said that the Odorizzi and Dickerson moves had been motivated by the team having depth at their respective positions, but Neander acknowledged that no such depth existed in right field. Thus, the Rays would be in the market for a right fielder.

Gomez looks like the perfect fit.

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The right-handed-hitting Gomez, 32, slashed .255/.340/.462 for the Rangers, with 17 home runs and 13 stolen bases while manning center field in 2017.

Gomez has spent the bulk of his Major League career as a center fielder, but that won't be the case with the Rays, who have American League Gold Glove Award-winning center fielder Kevin Kiermaier locking down the position. Clearly, right field looks to be Gomez's destination, with veteran Denard Span and Mallex Smith left to compete for the job in left field.

Gomez is the only player to accrue at least 12 home runs and 12 steals in each of the last six seasons. However, he has played 150 games or more in a season just once in his career and has averaged 112 games per season since 2015.

The Rays have been able to cut significant salary in the last week with their series of moves. Gone are Odorizzi ($6.3 million), Dickerson ($5.95 million) and Souza ($3.55 million), with cheaper replacements in Gomez and C.J. Cron ($2.3 million).

Fantasy spin | Fred Zinkie (@FredZinkieMLB)

While he can no longer match his heyday production of 20-plus homers and roughly 35 steals, Gomez still warrants attention in deep mixed leagues after averaging 15 homers and 15.5 steals across the past two seasons. With the addition of the 32-year-old Gomez to a rapidly changing Rays roster, the speedy Smith will likely move to a reserve role and no longer merits a draft pick in mixed formats.

Video: Zinkie on 2018 Gomez fantasy impact with move to Rays

Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005.

Tampa Bay Rays, Carlos Gomez

Mike Trout drove Shohei Ohtani around in a golf cart and the photo is wonderful

Spring Training just started, but we've already been blessed with some real gifts. Odubel Herrera showed off his amazing new hairstyle, AJ Ramos played reporter and grilled Michael Conforto, Hector Santiago made his own jersey for Photo Day with the White Sox ... the list goes on.

Over at the Angels' facility, much of the to-do so far has involved Shohei Ohtani, who arrived at camp and put on a show, throwing his first bullpen session and impressing Mike Trout with his hitting skills

Cubs coach Tim Buss added to his legacy of Spring Training stunts with a bold new look

You know the type of person who owns a room upon entering it? Whether due to that person's robust personality or unique sense of fashion, we all know somebody who fits the bill.

Those who frequent Cubs Spring Training in recent years have been treated to random acts of flair thanks to strength and conditioning coach Tim Buss, who showed up at camp Wednesday morning in this getup, as captured for the masses by MLB.com's Carrie Muskat. 

Rendon seeking simplicity as recipe for success

MLB.com @JamalCollier

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Anthony Rendon says he kept his offseason routine the same, which undersells a couple of major changes that took place during the winter: He got married in late November; he volunteered his time with the non-profit organization, Rebuilding Together, to help rebuild a home in Houston devastated after Hurricane Harvey; and the most notable change Nationals fan will be able to see this year -- he cut his hair for the first time since the middle of 2016.

"Oh, man, it was just too long," Rendon said. "It was too much to maintain. I either got to put product in it or I got to wear a hat. So I was kind over it. It was too curly."

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Anthony Rendon says he kept his offseason routine the same, which undersells a couple of major changes that took place during the winter: He got married in late November; he volunteered his time with the non-profit organization, Rebuilding Together, to help rebuild a home in Houston devastated after Hurricane Harvey; and the most notable change Nationals fan will be able to see this year -- he cut his hair for the first time since the middle of 2016.

"Oh, man, it was just too long," Rendon said. "It was too much to maintain. I either got to put product in it or I got to wear a hat. So I was kind over it. It was too curly."

Nationals Spring Training: Info | Tickets | Schedule

Other than the change in appearance, Rendon had every reason to want to keep everything the same after the best season of his career in 2017. He hit .301/.403/.533 with 25 home runs and 100 RBIs, both career-highs, and Fangraphs lists him at 6.9 Wins Above Replacement. As strikeout rates rise in the Majors, Rendon was the rare player who had more walks (84) than strikeouts (82). He also finished as a finalist for the Gold Glove Award. That all earned him a sixth place finish in the crowded race for the National League Most Valuable Player.

Video: Rendon reflects on 2017 season at Nats Winterfest

Rendon attributed his success to a slight change in philosophy. He is not a complete disciple of the proverbial fly ball revolution, but he focused on driving the ball more frequently a year ago and hitting it in the air a little more. He hit 63.7 percent of his batted balls last year at a launch angle of 10 degrees or higher, which is basically the start of the line drive angle, a slight uptick from 59.8 percent in 2016. And a greater share of those hard hit balls (95 mph exit velocity or better) were in the air last season (60.9 percent) than the year prior (54.9 percent).

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Those changes, however slight, helped produce the best season of his career.

"Rendon is ... he's a magician," hitting coach Kevin Long said. "He's fun to watch. He was one of the hitters that when he was up to bat, I sat there and I marveled. He's quiet, he puts himself in a good position, he's always on time. It looks effortless. His mechanics are flawless, he's in line. He's balanced. He just does a lot of things right.

"I'm leaving him alone. He's one guy that I'm not going to be able to help too much. What he does is special."

So the Nationals are hopeful that Rendon can continue that success. He is still in the prime of his career with two years remaining on his contract before free agency. Washington had some initial discussions with Rendon's agent, Scott Boras, this offseason while the two sides negotiated Rendon's arbitration contract, but the conversations did not get very far. Still, Rendon has said he is open to remaining with the organization long term.

It's not surprising, considering Rendon has spent his entire career in the Nats' organization and enjoys feeling comfortable. Perhaps he would prefer to keep things routine, just like how he feels his offseason went.

"It was the same thing," Rendon said. "We worked out in the morning, golfed in the afternoon, laid on my couch. I didn't really do too much. I try to keep it simple."

Jamal Collier has covered the Nationals for MLB.com since 2016. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

Washington Nationals, Anthony Rendon

D-backs Minor Leaguers lead way vs. ASU

MLB.com @SteveGilbertMLB

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- For the fourth year in a row, the D-backs opened their spring exhibition schedule with the Collegiate Baseball Series, where they take on one of Arizona's college teams.

Wednesday's opponent was Arizona State University, and the D-backs came away with an 8-2 win in seven innings at Salt River Fields.

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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- For the fourth year in a row, the D-backs opened their spring exhibition schedule with the Collegiate Baseball Series, where they take on one of Arizona's college teams.

Wednesday's opponent was Arizona State University, and the D-backs came away with an 8-2 win in seven innings at Salt River Fields.

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Video: ASU@ARI: Walker opens scoring with a two-run single

The D-backs did not play any of their regulars in the game, because it came just two days after the team's first full-squad workout, and D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said his players weren't 100 percent ready for game action.

That gave a number of players from the team's Minor League system a chance to play.

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"The guys really grinded out at-bats and got what they needed out of the day," Lovullo said. "Everybody came through [healthy]. That was probably my biggest concern."

Sit down

Lovullo plans to follow the same plan he did last year in terms of getting his regulars plenty of rest during the regular season.

Whether they like it or not.

"We feel like it's very important to give players rest, and at times it's frustrating to the player," Lovullo said.

Lovullo felt like his philosophy paid dividends in September when the D-backs ran off 13 straight wins to all but lock up the top National League Wild Card.

"Our players were well-rested," Lovullo said. "They were strong, and you could see how that impacted the season for us. It was a very crucial time of the year when our guys were 100 percent and playing very fundamental, physical baseball."

The depth of the Arizona roster will give him the flexibility to do that. The addition of Jarrod Dyson gives Lovullo a backup at all three outfield positions.

Video: Jarrod Dyson discusses fitting in with the D-backs

In the infield, even with the trade of Brandon Drury, the D-backs have plenty of options with Nick Ahmed, Ketel Marte, Daniel Descalso and Chris Owings up the middle.

Being flexible

Speaking of Owings, it looks like he will need to keep multiple gloves on hand.

A shortstop by trade, Owings will see time there as well as second and third base and both corner outfield spots.

Video: Outlook: Owings has potential for 20 homers, 20 SB

"He's going to walk all over the diamond and impact the game at a different angle at different times throughout the course of the season," Lovullo said of Owings.

That's nothing new to Owings, who played short, second, left and right during an injury-shortened 2017 season.

"He took it right in stride," Lovullo said. "We asked him to do a lot last year."

Up next: The D-backs will have a little shorter workout Thursday before departing for a team golfing event.

Arizona opens its Cactus League schedule Friday afternoon against the Rockies at Salt River Fields.

Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.

Arizona Diamondbacks

Triple-H's hit triple digits, wow Cards mates

Rookies Hicks, Helsley and Hudson likely to factor into 'pen
MLB.com @JoeTrezz

JUPITER, Fla. -- The results on the back fields, the spring thinking goes, hardly matter. The impressions, though, the takeaways, could go a long way toward shaping a season. Take Tuesday, for example, when Cardinals pitchers faced hitters for the first time in live batting practice.

Luke Voit won't remember grounding a Jordan Hicks sinker to short. Kolten Wong won't remember squaring up one of Hicks' heaters, then squibbing the next. But Voit won't forget the sink, just like Wong won't forget the sizzle that made him hop out from under the batting turtle, hands stinging, and say: "Wow. Even when you hit this kid, you have to [really] hit it."

JUPITER, Fla. -- The results on the back fields, the spring thinking goes, hardly matter. The impressions, though, the takeaways, could go a long way toward shaping a season. Take Tuesday, for example, when Cardinals pitchers faced hitters for the first time in live batting practice.

Luke Voit won't remember grounding a Jordan Hicks sinker to short. Kolten Wong won't remember squaring up one of Hicks' heaters, then squibbing the next. But Voit won't forget the sink, just like Wong won't forget the sizzle that made him hop out from under the batting turtle, hands stinging, and say: "Wow. Even when you hit this kid, you have to [really] hit it."

Cardinals Spring Training information

Voit and Wong were the only Cardinals to face Hicks, the owner of the one of the youngest and more powerful arms in camp and the No. 13 Cards prospect per MLB Pipeline. But they were two of the many with an opinion after seeing the 21-year-old throw in a competitive setting for the first time. A crowd of coaches and veterans gathered to watch Hicks, who despite not pitching above Class A figures to factor into the club's bullpen picture this season, along with fellow hard-throwing prospects Dakota Hudson and Ryan Helsley, the Cards' No. 7 and No. 22 prospects, respectively.

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Hicks' fastball, which is said to have hit 102 mph, inspired whistles and exaggerated facial expressions from behind the batting cage.

"That's the impression I want to make," Hicks said afterward. "I want to leave it all out there, no matter where I'm at. This was the first competitive one, so I felt really amped up."

Hours later, it still had the clubhouse talking.

"It's heavy, hard and with lots of sink," Wong said.

"There was a lot of hype about him and from what I heard," said Voit. "And I was impressed, just like everybody else was."

Despite the calls for them to sign a certain high-profile closer, the club's reluctance to commit to a particular ninth-inning option stems from its expectation that, at some point, Hicks, Helsley and Hudson factor in. All have fastballs that can reach triple digits. Hicks has a four-seamer he's learning to locate up, and a two-seamer that runs down and in to righties.

"He's going to shatter some bats," Wong said.

Helsley, 23, throws four pitches. The highlight is his heater, which routinely hovers around 98 mph. Hudson, also 23, relies on a power sinker and wipeout slider. Both reached Triple-A Memphis last season.

Helsley was part of the group that threw to hitters Tuesday. He inspired gossip by striking out infielder Breyvic Valera, an extreme contact hitter who may make the club specifically because of his ability to put the ball in play.

"He never strikes out," Helsley said. "If I struck him out, it was an OK day."

Joe Trezza is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @joetrezz.

St. Louis Cardinals, Ryan Helsley, Jordan Hicks