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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.

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.

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

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.

Spring Training: Info | Tickets | Schedule | Gear

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.

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

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

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

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.

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

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

Back spasms have Andrus out as precaution

MLB.com @Sullivan_Ranger

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus sat out of Wednesday's workout while dealing with back spasms. The Rangers said it was more precautionary than anything because it is early in Spring Training.

If this were the regular season, Andrus would have been in the lineup. He usually is.

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus sat out of Wednesday's workout while dealing with back spasms. The Rangers said it was more precautionary than anything because it is early in Spring Training.

If this were the regular season, Andrus would have been in the lineup. He usually is.

Video: Outlook: Andrus attempts to build on surprising 2017

Andrus is entering his 10th season with Texas, and he has never been on the disabled list. He played in 158 games last year and at least 145 per season since he was a rookie in 2009. The shortstop played in 147 games in '16, even though he was bothered by a sports hernia for much of the season.

"I think that is my No. 1 goal every year -- play as much as I can and fight through injuries," Andrus said. "Find a way to be there for my team."

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

Andrus said he learned that from Michael Young and Adrian Beltre.

"They told me your body could be feeling [terrible] and you still might go 4-for-4," Andrus said. "If something is bothering you, why take a week off? You can still find a way to help the team. That's the thing I admire about other players is playing every day."

Bochy speaks highly of Moore

The Rangers acquired left-handed starter Matt Moore in a trade from the Giants this offseason. Giants manager Bruce Bochy said the Rangers are getting a "good one," even though Moore struggled in San Francisco.

Tweet from @Sullivan_Ranger: Matt Moore throwing a batting practice session pic.twitter.com/60aXOFElnd

"I loved my time with Matt," Bochy said. "Matt was a great teammate. I thank him for all he did. Never missed starts. He had some struggles last year. I remember bringing him [to the office] and maybe giving him a break, skip a start, catch his breath. He insisted no, he wanted to get back out there. That's the competitor that he is. He really pitched well at the end of the year."

Moore was 6-15 with a 5.52 ERA in 31 starts for the Giants in 2017. He had a seven-game stretch from Aug. 18 to Sept. 20 in which he was 3-2 with a 3.38 ERA before allowing eight runs in 1 1/3 innings in his final outing.

"Everybody has their ups and downs in this game," Bochy said. "Mostly his command would get away from him, and his delivery would get out of sync occasionally. But he found it. ... If you look at his last few starts, he was throwing the ball well."

Outfielders parading to mound

Minor League first baseman/outfielder Royce Bolinger is being switched to pitcher after five seasons. He had a couple of appearances on the mound at Gonzaga during his college career.

Bolinger follows Jairo Beras and James Jones, two other former outfielders who were switched to the mound in the past couple of years. Beras had a 5.02 ERA in 14 appearances in Class A last year, and then went to Instructional League for more work.

"The big progress we saw was in Instructional League," farm director Jayce Tingler said of Beras. "It's upper 90s [mph]. ... One thing we have worked on is his slider. It is a live arm. It's easy strikes. What we were most encouraged with was how he picked up his slider and how well he was able to throw it for strikes. He's got real weapons. If he stays healthy, he could pitch in the upper levels in a short time."

Jones, who played for the Mariners in 2014-15, was switched to the mound after being acquired by the Rangers. He underwent Tommy John surgery in '16, but is at full strength again. Jones was a pitcher in college at Long Island University.

"Guys are buzzing about him, especially the rehab guys who have put a ton of time into it," Tingler said. "He's healthy and throwing his fastball very well -- mid-to-low 90's, pretty good breaking ball."

Rangers beat

• The Rangers worked out Wednesday morning in 40-plus-degree temperatures. Beltre stayed indoors doing his work. The Rangers are letting Beltre take it slow this spring because he has a history of minor leg issues in Spring Training.

• Because of the condensed Spring Training, the Rangers will not have any intrasquad games before the Cactus League opener on Saturday against the Cubs.

• Moore, who has been dealing with soreness behind his right knee, threw live batting practice without any issues on Wednesday.

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.

Texas Rangers, Elvis Andrus

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

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

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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Tweet from @Dbacks: #DbacksWinFINAL: #Dbacks 8, @ASU_Baseball 2 pic.twitter.com/YRcuK4ZZZO

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

D-backs get Souza from TB, trade Drury to NYY

Rays receive Solak from Yankees, Banda and 2 PTBNL from Arizona
MLB.com @SteveGilbertMLB

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- One day after losing free-agent slugger J.D. Martinez to the Red Sox, the D-backs continued their outfield makeover on Tuesday by acquiring Steven Souza Jr. from the Rays as part of a three-team deal that sent Brandon Drury to the Yankees.

The addition of Souza, along with Monday's signing of Jarrod Dyson, gives the D-backs much-needed depth in their outfield.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- One day after losing free-agent slugger J.D. Martinez to the Red Sox, the D-backs continued their outfield makeover on Tuesday by acquiring Steven Souza Jr. from the Rays as part of a three-team deal that sent Brandon Drury to the Yankees.

The addition of Souza, along with Monday's signing of Jarrod Dyson, gives the D-backs much-needed depth in their outfield.

Trade for Drury could impact Torres, Andujar

In addition to Souza, the D-backs acquired right-hander Taylor Widener, the Yanks' No. 14 prospect. The 23-year-old went 7-8 with a 3.39 ERA in 27 starts for Class A Advanced Tampa. There was a cost, though. In addition to parting with the Bronx-bound Drury, Arizona sent its No. 4 prospect, left-hander Anthony Banda, and two players to be named to Tampa Bay.

Video: Callis on D-backs acquiring pitching prospect Widener

D-backs get
Steven Souza Jr. (from TB)
Taylor Widener (Yankees' No. 22 prospect)

Yankees get
Brandon Drury (from ARI)

Rays get
Anthony Banda (D-backs' No. 4 prospect)
Nick Solak (Yankees' No. 8 prospect)
Two players to be named later (from ARI)

Drury became expendable because of Arizona's surplus of middle infielders -- Nick Ahmed, Daniel Descalso, Ketel Marte and Chris Owings -- but the 25-year-old fills a need for New York. He played mainly second base for the D-backs last season, but he can also play third. Drury's ability to play both positions gives the Yankees the flexibility to fill the other slot with either top prospect Gleyber Torres or No. 5 prospect Miguel Andujar. Drury hit .267 with 13 home runs and 63 RBIs in 135 games in 2017.

The Yanks also sent their No. 8 prospect, Nick Solak, to the Rays. The 23-year-old second baseman who hit .297 with 12 home runs and 53 RBIs in 130 games split between Class A Advanced and Double-A Trenton in 2017.

Souza, 28, brings a potent bat with him to Arizona. The right-handed hitter posted a .239/.351/.459 slash line last year, with a 121 OPS+ over 617 plate appearances.

Video: Souza Jr. on chasing a championship with D-backs

Set to make $3.5 million this season, Souza will not be eligible for free agency until after the 2020 season.

Souza played primarily right field for the Rays and figures to do so with the D-backs as well. David Peralta, who has played both left and right field during his time in Arizona, profiles better in left.

A.J. Pollock will start in center, giving the D-backs a strong starting group, and Dyson's ability to play all three outfield spots gives manager Torey Lovullo plenty of opportunities to give guys days off.

What that means for Yasmany Tomas, who missed most of last season due to core injuries, remains to be seen. He will make $10 million this year and has a player option that would pay him $15.5 million in 2019 and $17 million in '20.

Banda, meanwhile, made his big league debut and pitched in eight games for Arizona last year, including four starts. He recorded a 5.96 ERA and 25 strikeouts in 25 2/3 innings. Banda was expected to begin this season at Triple-A, but was viewed as someone who could be called on if one of the D-backs' five starters got injured.

Video: Zinkie on fantasy implications of Souza, Drury deal

Fantasy spin | Fred Zinkie (@FredZinkieMLB)
Owings gains the most value from this deal among those on the D-backs, as he could shift from utility player to starting second baseman. The trade also boosts the value of Souza, who warrants Round 10 consideration in standard-league drafts as he prepares to bring his power-speed blend (30 homers, 16 steals in 2017) to a productive Arizona lineup. Meanwhile, Mallex Smith becomes a late-round steals source who could swipe 35 bases if given 550 plate appearances with the Rays. As for the Yankees, the acquisition of Drury likely eliminates the chance of the club opening the season with both Torres and Andujar in the starting lineup, though one of the two prospects may still have an opportunity to land a spot.

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

New York Yankees, Tampa Bay Rays, Arizona Diamondbacks

Mets valuing flexibility with optionable relievers

MLB.com @AnthonyDiComo

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Playing last summer for the Dodgers' Triple-A Oklahoma City affiliate, Jacob Rhame saw firsthand one of baseball's newer pitching trends play out before him. As Rhame logged his time at Triple-A, he watched the Dodgers option successful pitchers such as Josh Fields and Ross Stripling to the Minors to make room for rested arms at the Major League level.

"You can be throwing your butt off, throwing well, but if you throw three days in a row they need a fresh arm," Rhame said. "It's just part of the game. You've got to know your role."

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Playing last summer for the Dodgers' Triple-A Oklahoma City affiliate, Jacob Rhame saw firsthand one of baseball's newer pitching trends play out before him. As Rhame logged his time at Triple-A, he watched the Dodgers option successful pitchers such as Josh Fields and Ross Stripling to the Minors to make room for rested arms at the Major League level.

"You can be throwing your butt off, throwing well, but if you throw three days in a row they need a fresh arm," Rhame said. "It's just part of the game. You've got to know your role."

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As that trend grew popular in Oklahoma City, Scranton, Pa., and various other Minor League outposts around the country, the Mets took notice. Out of contention by early summer, New York began scouting other teams' relievers, looking for pitchers such as Rhame who featured elite strikeout rates, opponent exit velocities and spin rates.

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They used Trackman data at Port St. Lucie's First Data Field to identify Drew Smith, whom they eventually acquired for Lucas Duda. They saw wipeout potential in the 101-mph fastball of Gerson Bautista, who arrived with Jamie Callahan and Stephen Nogosek in a deal for Addison Reed. They imported live arms in Rhame (for Curtis Granderson) and Ryder Ryan (for Jay Bruce), each of them with histories of striking out more than 10 batters per nine innings in the Minors.

Four of the six now rank among MLB Pipeline's Top 30 Mets prospects. Rhame, Callahan, Bautista and Smith are all in big league camp.

Video: WSH@NYM: Callahan K's Stevenson to escape a jam

"Everyone here has got an awesome arm," Rhame said. "We've all got talent. It's a big competition, really."

Almost as important, all of the relievers the Mets acquired have unused Minor League options, giving the Mets the exact sort of flexibility they crave.

It may seem like a small thing, but with relief pitchers contributing a higher percentage of innings than ever before in baseball history, it's critical. No longer can teams survive with seven-man bullpens. To the contrary, many clubs have already transitioned to eight-man 'pens, like the Mets did for much of last season. But even that is often no longer enough.

Beyond the extra arm, teams value optionable relievers who can shuttle back and forth from Triple-A at any time, with no penalty -- no risk of losing them to a waiver claim -- beyond a 10-day cooling off period following a demotion. That allows clubs to bring in fresh arms after using their bullpens heavily in an extra-inning game or on a night in which the starter did not go deep.

Logistically, it's a strategy that's easier for teams such as the Yankees that play within driving distance of their Triple-A club. But it is one the Mets nonetheless plan on embracing for a year with their Las Vegas affiliate, before shifting to Syracuse, N.Y., in 2019.

"To have a couple of optionable relievers, or one spot that you can do that with, is huge," manager Mickey Callaway said. "You have a 15-inning game, they're gonna go down. That's just how it is. We're going to bring them all in, those guys with options, and explain that to them, and they have to be able to handle that information, go down, get their work in in Triple-A so they can come back and help us.

"Those guys are going to matter in the long run. They will probably end up pitching in some pretty important games at some point. So they're very crucial for what we're trying to do."

The Mets will begin this season with a bullpen featuring at least three pitchers with accessible options, giving them such flexibility in spades. And while Rhame, Callahan, Smith and Bautista are unlikely to call Flushing home on Opening Day, it may not make much of a difference over 162 games.

"Obviously everybody wants to have the goal of making the team out of Spring Training," Smith said. "Everybody in here wants that. But if not, you still have a chance to be here. It's a long season."

Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo, Instagram and Facebook.

New York Mets, Gerson Bautista, Jamie Callahan, Stephen Nogosek, Jacob Rhame, Ryder Ryan, Drew Smith

Hand prepared for unconventional closer role

Padres not expecting to always save lefty for ninth inning
MLB.com @AJCassavell

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Brad Hand is going to be the Padres' closer this season -- except when he isn't.

The All-Star lefty signed a three-year contract extension during the offseason, and, on most nights, it's safe to expect he'll be saved for the ninth inning. But that's not a hard-and-fast rule, in the eyes of manager Andy Green.

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Brad Hand is going to be the Padres' closer this season -- except when he isn't.

The All-Star lefty signed a three-year contract extension during the offseason, and, on most nights, it's safe to expect he'll be saved for the ninth inning. But that's not a hard-and-fast rule, in the eyes of manager Andy Green.

"We'll find interesting ways to utilize him that maximize our abilities to win games," Green said. "He'll close some games, for sure. But how that all plays out, I don't have that mapped out right now."

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That's just fine with Hand, who was used mostly in a setup capacity last year until the Padres sent Brandon Maurer to Kansas City at the Trade Deadline.

"Sometimes the ninth inning is talked about just because it ends the game," Hand said. "But there might be other situations -- and I think you're starting to see it more in baseball -- where the closer role is interchangeable. Other guys can come in and do the job, if you have to use [the closer] in an earlier situation."

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Green hypothesized one of those situations arising in a game against the Dodgers.

"I'd hate to be staring down [left-handed hitters] Cody Bellinger and Corey Seager in the eighth inning and say, 'I'm going to hold onto Brad until the ninth,'" Green said. "It just doesn't make a whole lot of sense. We'll move him around as best fits us, and he doesn't care. He's good with anything."

Over the past two seasons, Hand has cemented himself as one of the game's top relievers. He's posted a 2.56 ERA since joining the Padres in April 2016. During that time, he's posted consecutive 100-strikeout seasons, and he's appeared in more games than anyone, minus Addison Reed.

Video: Brad Hand is the No. 9 relief pitcher right now

During the offseason, Hand re-upped with the Padres through 2020 for $19.75 million, with a team option for '21. He enters this season secure financially and secure in his place in the Padres' bullpen -- even if his job as closer isn't entirely traditional.

"It's the same as every year," Hand said. "You get ready for the season, no matter what your role is. You've got to be ready to compete, ready to win ballgames, whether you're pitching the fifth inning or the ninth inning."

Padres finalizing pitching plans for opener
Kyle Lloyd, Brett Kennedy and Miguel Diaz will all pitch in Friday's Cactus League opener against the Mariners at the Peoria Sports Complex, though Green did not confirm a starter.

All three are expected to begin the year in the Minors. Diaz spent last season in the Major League bullpen as a Rule 5 Draft pick, but he'll be a starting pitcher to open this season. In that sense, the club feels he could use some experience in the Minors, and he likely won't be a part of an already-crowded rotation battle.

Quotable
Green had high praise for Tyson Ross and Chris Young, noting the impact the veteran right-handers can make on a young group of pitchers this spring:

"Both of them are the type of pitchers that we'd love to build in our farm system with the way they're wired, the way they compete," Green said. "They're great examples for our guys. Their workouts are religious to them. They don't miss anything, they take care of their bodies.

"That's how you pitch deep into your 30s. If you don't do those things, your career usually ends around 30 years old. Those guys are great examples to the young guys in camp, and those two guys have legitimate opportunities to be in our rotation. We'll watch that play out."

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.

San Diego Padres, Brad Hand