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J.D. deal embraced at Red Sox camp

Martinez not only brings big bat, but also veteran presence to young core
MLB.com @IanMBrowne

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The official arrival of J.D. Martinez to the Red Sox could come Wednesday, once he passes his physical. The anticipation in the clubhouse for the arrival of this offseason's premier slugger was building by the end of Tuesday's team workout.

For a team with World Series aspirations, the addition of a player who belted 45 homers in just 432 at-bats last season was a thrilling development.

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The official arrival of J.D. Martinez to the Red Sox could come Wednesday, once he passes his physical. The anticipation in the clubhouse for the arrival of this offseason's premier slugger was building by the end of Tuesday's team workout.

For a team with World Series aspirations, the addition of a player who belted 45 homers in just 432 at-bats last season was a thrilling development.

Sources: Red Sox have 5-year deal with J.D.

"It's a good bat and at least 40 homers," said Hanley Ramirez. "And we're trying to win this [thing]. This is how we can do it, to get a player like that. We've been together for three or four years training together down in Miami. We have a good relationship. He's a good hitter, and I think he's going to help us a lot."

Video: Look for Martinez to be early-round fantasy option

After finishing last in the American League this past season with 168 homers, the Red Sox now have the type of impact slugger who can instantly change that.

Martinez also represents another veteran presence to help the team's talented young core.

"He's a great player," said Red Sox left fielder Andrew Benintendi. "He's proven himself. I'm just looking forward to getting to know him. I've heard he's helped out young guys throughout his years, so I'll be all ears when he comes in."

The right-handed hitting Martinez should provide the type of impact in the middle of the order the Red Sox badly missed during David Ortiz's first season of retirement last year.

"He's obviously a presence," said Red Sox center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. "Having that type of presence in the lineup can make a difference and that's what he is; he's a difference-maker."

The Red Sox won the AL East with 93 wins in each of the past two seasons, but also lost both years in the Division Series. They now have the type of big bat that could help lead them to a deep October run.

"He's a force, obviously," said first baseman Mitch Moreland. "To have him kind of anchored in the middle of our lineup is only going to help us.

"It's great having him, obviously," said Bradley. "We look forward to seeing him and welcoming him with open arms, and we can't wait for him to be a part of this unit."

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.

Boston Red Sox, J.D. Martinez

Phillies, Arrieta having discussions

MLB.com

Perhaps the best option remaining on the free-agent pitching market is Jake Arrieta, the 2015 National League Cy Young Award winner.

Phillies talking with Arrieta
The Phillies, who already made one splash signing this offseason in bringing in first baseman Carlos Santana, might be trying to add another.

Perhaps the best option remaining on the free-agent pitching market is Jake Arrieta, the 2015 National League Cy Young Award winner.

Phillies talking with Arrieta
The Phillies, who already made one splash signing this offseason in bringing in first baseman Carlos Santana, might be trying to add another.

Philadelphia and Jake Arrieta "are having dialogue" about a potential deal, according to MLB Network insider Jon Heyman.

Heyman notes that Phillies president Andy MacPhail, general manager Matt Klentak and director of player development Joe Jordan "love [Arrieta] from their days in Baltimore together."

Arrieta, 31, went 20-25 with a 5.46 ERA in 69 games (63 starts) for the Orioles to begin his career, but since a trade to the Cubs in 2013, he is 68-31 with a 2.73 ERA in 128 starts. He was named the National League Cy Young Award winner in 2015, when he went 22-6 with a 1.77 ERA in a career-high 33 starts and 229 innings.

The veteran right-hander has been known to be seeking a long-term contract, but according to Heyman, the Phillies "would prefer a shorter term" deal. "So there's a gap," Heyman added.

Arrieta could be seeking an offer close to the six-year, $126 million deal Yu Darvish recently signed with the Cubs. -- This report was first posted on Feb. 20.

Heyman sees Arrieta's best fit to be Brewers
The Brewers have already taken aggressive measures to bolster a roster that last year finished just one game shy of the postseason, yet their most glaring personnel deficiency -- a need for at least one top-of-the-rotation arm -- remains unaddressed. For this, and with the division-rival Cubs' signing Yu Darvish, MLB Network insider Jon Heyman predicts in a post for FanRag Sports that Arrieta's most suitable landing spot is Milwaukee.

:: Free agent buzz ::

The Brewers have already added free agent Jhoulys Chacin to complement the Opening Day rotation with Chase Anderson and Zach Davies. Jimmy Nelson, who enjoyed a breakout year in 2017 before undergoing shoulder surgery, is not expected until some time later in the first half as he returns from injury. Manager Craig Counsell said the club's current plan is to have a group of Brandon Woodruff, Brent Suter, Yovani Gallardo, Junior Guerra and Aaron Wilkerson compete for the remaining starts. Even with Nelson's return, the current contingent is projected 15th in FanGraphs WAR at the position -- well behind the Cubs and Cardinals, who the Brewers will be chasing in the National League Central.

Couple their needs at the position and owner Mark Attanasio's comments at Fanfest last month indicating that the club had financial flexibility to add to it, and a union with Arrieta appears a strong fit. The Brewers finished with an MLB-low $63 million in payroll in 2017.

"We could sign a big pitcher. If the right situation comes along, we can take advantage of that," Attanasio said.

For all of these reasons, Heyman speculates Arrieta will (eventually) sign with the Brewers. He also notes the Nationals, Phillies, Cardinals and Twins -- each of whom have been linked to Arrieta -- as other potential landing spots, but not to as strong of an extent as Milwaukee. -- This report was first posted on Feb. 15.

Arrieta market may be down to Brewers, Twins
Now that Yu Darvish has agreed to a deal with the Cubs, the free-agent picture for Arrieta is starting to crystallize. The Brewers and Twins, two teams previously linked to Darvish, now appear to be two of the favorites to land Arrieta, according to a report from MLB Network insider Jon Heyman on Sunday night. The Nationals, Phillies and Cardinals are also possible destinations for Arrieta, according to Heyman.

Per Heyman, the Brewers could be the most logical fit, and Milwaukee has "been in touch" with Arrieta. The Brewers have made some big splashes already this offseason, signing Lorenzo Cain and trading for Christian Yelich, but ace Jimmy Nelson is recovering from right shoulder surgery and their rotation could use a boost, especially if they want to keep pace with the improved Cubs.

The Nationals, meanwhile, are looking to make a deep postseason run, and Arrieta could take an already strong rotation to the next level. General manager Mike Rizzo reportedly loves the idea of adding someone like Arrieta, but Washington is also concerned with remaining below the luxury-tax threshold.

The Phillies are an up-and-coming young team, but they've also already signed Carlos Santana and could look to bolster their pitching staff, too. As Heyman notes, Phillies president Andy MacPhail, general manager Matt Klentak and director of player development Joe Jordan were all Orioles executives when Baltimore drafted Arrieta.

Video: Do Nationals make sense as a destination for Arrieta

According to Heyman, the Twins had appeared to favor Darvish and were focused on him, so an Arrieta-Twins pact might come as a surprise. But they do need pitching with Ervin Santana set to miss time while recovering from right middle finger surgery; the best fit might just be someone like Lance Lynn or Alex Cobb instead of Arrieta.

Looking to get back to the postseason amid a competitive NL Central, St. Louis can afford Arrieta, but improving its bullpen has been a higher priority than its rotation. Addressing that need, the club has reached a deal with free-agent reliever Bud Norris, a source told MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal on Monday morning. -- This report was first posted on Feb. 12.

Nationals remain possible Arrieta destination
The Nationals have emerged as a suitor for some of the remaining free-agent starters on the market, including Arrieta, according to MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi.

Right-hander A.J. Cole currently projects as Washington's No. 5 starter, but he's yet to pitch a full season in the big leagues. The 26-year-old has totaled 99 2/3 innings through 22 appearances with the Nationals over the last three seasons. Cole impressed with a strong finish in 2017, posting a 3.00 ERA through his final eight games. He's out of options, so if he doesn't make the Opening Day roster, the Nationals could lose him on waivers.

Washington's No. 4 prospect Erick Fedde and veteran Edwin Jackson are also in the mix for the final rotation spot. General manager Mike Rizzo has said he's comfortable with the team's in-house options for the role.

The Nationals previously expressed interest in Arrieta at the Winter Meetings, per MLB.com's Mark Feinsand. Arrieta's agent, Scott Boras, has ties to the organization. He represents three of Washington's current rotation members -- Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez -- as well as Nats star Bryce Harper, who's entering a contract year. -- This report was first posted on Feb. 11.

Hot Stove Tracker

Teams interested in "high-salary/short-term" deal
Should Arrieta reach a stage where he feels a long-term deal may not be in sight, perhaps not at the dollar value or length he seeks, the right-hander may have a breadth of job opportunities available. There are multiple teams "very interested" in discussing a high-salary deal with Arrieta, but on a shorter term, according to a report by ESPN's Buster Olney.

Arrieta has been linked to the Twins, Brewers, Cardinals, Cubs, Phillies and Nationals, though none of those reports have manifested into anything that indicates a deal is even close to culminating.

Though he has shown flashes as one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball as recently as just three seasons ago, advanced metrics, a noticeable dip in velocity and less command of the strike zone all suggested that Arrieta possesses some potential long-term question marks. Those concerns may have prompted prospective suitors to temper their pursuit of a long-term deal with Arrieta, who was widely considered to land one of the most lucrative contracts as recently as just a year or two ago.

Though he is just five months older than Darvish and hasn't undergone major surgery like the Tommy John procedure Darvish underwent in 2015, Arrieta's market has been far more stagnant this winter, at least in the public realm. The Cubs showed far more interest in Darvish before agreeing to a five-year deal with the free-agent righty, which led USA Today's Bob Nightengale to speculate on a red flag relating to Arrieta -- essentially, if the Cubs, who nurtured Arrieta into one of the best pitchers in the game, were more interested in an external option, "What do the Cubs know about him that the rest of baseball doesn't?" -- This report was first posted on Feb. 9.

Arrieta appears ready to hold out for right deal
Arrieta, who is entering his age-32 season and is just two years removed from a historic season in 2015, finished the 2017 campaign with a 3.53 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP in 30 starts. He was among the most significant pieces of a multiyear Cubs rebuild that culminated with a championship in '16, and he has been linked to several clubs this offseason.

In January, USA Today reported that the Cubs would be willing to bring Arrieta back on a four-year, $110 million deal, though it's believed that the right-hander is seeking a longer deal and Chicago has since added Yu Darvish. The Brewers, who have fortified their lineup but are still in need of a top-of-the-rotation starter, are believed to have made a similar offer in length. CBS Chicago's Bruce Levine reported in early January that the Cardinals have also shown interest in Arrieta.

Levine reported in November that the starting point for negotiations between clubs and Boras were in the six-year, $160 million range. While it seems unlikely that Arrieta will net a contract of that figure, the highly competitive hurler appears to be willing to wait for the right offer.

The standstill market among the most high-profile free agents continues, and it's unclear if the dust will settle before next week, when pitchers and catchers report. -- This report was first posted on Jan. 3.

Jake Arrieta

Projections vary in tight AL East race

Unlike other divisions, Sox and Yanks too close to call
MLB.com @mike_petriello

The Red Sox are the two-time defending American League East champions, and now they've just added the best free-agent slugger of the winter, J.D. Martinez. Armed with a first-time manager in Alex Cora, they enter the spring expecting to be the division favorites, which is partially what they are by the FanGraphs projections that have them tied at the top of the East.

The Yankees made it to the seventh game of the American League Championship Series last year, and they added (via trade) the best-known slugger in the game, Giancarlo Stanton. Armed with a first-time manager in Aaron Boone, they enter the spring expecting to be the division favorites, which is exactly what they are by the Baseball Prospectus projections, by nine games, though that will drop slightly when Martinez is added.

The Red Sox are the two-time defending American League East champions, and now they've just added the best free-agent slugger of the winter, J.D. Martinez. Armed with a first-time manager in Alex Cora, they enter the spring expecting to be the division favorites, which is partially what they are by the FanGraphs projections that have them tied at the top of the East.

The Yankees made it to the seventh game of the American League Championship Series last year, and they added (via trade) the best-known slugger in the game, Giancarlo Stanton. Armed with a first-time manager in Aaron Boone, they enter the spring expecting to be the division favorites, which is exactly what they are by the Baseball Prospectus projections, by nine games, though that will drop slightly when Martinez is added.

The only correct takeaway here is that these are two extremely talented teams that ought to be in a tightly contested battle all season, ending with one of them winning the division and the other hosting a Wild Card game. But we're talking about a gap of nearly 10 wins between two of the most respected projection systems around, which is a lot. What's fueling this?

It's important to remember that projection systems aren't predictions and aren't intended to be, and they can't predict every unexpected breakout or injury or in-season trade acquisition. Nor should we really want every projection system to say the exact same thing, because that wouldn't be interesting, but you'd expect them to say mostly the same thing. The good teams are likely to be good, and the rebuilding teams probably aren't. That's why there's a pretty decent correlation between preseason projections and end-of-season win totals, and you don't see this kind of disagreement in any of the other five divisions.

Video: Ian Browne discusses J.D. Martinez signing

In both systems, and most likely in most fan predictions, Cleveland and Houston are slated to take the other two AL divisions, and once again, the Dodgers, Cubs and Nationals look to be the class of the NL. The biggest disagreement between the two sites is four games, coming in the NL Central (where one sees the Cubs as four games better than the Cardinals and one saying eight games) and AL West (12 games or 16 games, take your pick).

Four games isn't a lot, when looking ahead. Seven or eight or nine games is. Where do they disagree? We looked at the 74 players who have a depth-chart entry at both sites, and we found the biggest outliers. For many players, they do agree. FanGraphs projects Aaron Judge for 4.1 WAR, while BP says 3.9, which is basically identical. Both sites have Tommy Kahnle at 1.1 WAR, and Eduardo Nunez at 0.9 WAR. (Two WAR, as a reminder, is league-average, and four is star-level.)

There are a few differences, of course; there has to be for this gap. Baseball Prospectus likes Dellin Betances (+2.2) far more than FanGraphs does (+1.2), as well as Chris Sale (+6.2 vs. +5.4). FanGraphs has Steven Wright as being below average but pitchable (+0.8), while BP has him as being a disaster (-1.1).

But we're looking for the biggest discrepancies, and the five below are the largest. Which side do you take?

Jackie Bradley Jr., +2.4 wins (BP 1.0, FG 3.2)

The biggest disagreement comes with Boston's center fielder, and it's probably not hard to see why. As if it wasn't hard enough that his biggest value comes on defense (fielding being traditionally the hardest to quantify), Bradley has been wildly inconsistent at the plate. He was terrible in 2014, above average in 2015 and 2016, and below average in 2017. Compound that by a tale of two halves in 2017, with a strong first half (.280/.363/.490, 122 wRC+) followed by a miserable second half (.204/.277/.302, 51 wRC+).

So, you'd expect some disagreement, but this is extreme. They both expect a slight rebound at the plate, which is fair (though FanGraphs is more optimistic), but the difference is that BP viewed his defense as a net negative. The right answer here is probably "in the middle," but given that Statcast™ showed Bradley to be one of the best outfielders in baseball last year, we'll take the higher end of this disagreement.

Giancarlo Stanton, +2.4 wins (BP 3.9, FG 6.3)

BP, quite reasonably, takes the more conservative view here, because although Stanton did have a monster year, it was also the first time since 2014 he'd taken 500 plate appearances. We're talking about a difference of 100 points of projected slugging here, from BP's .558 to FG's .665. Considering that even last year he slugged "just" .631, and that was a career high, the lower end of this feels more appropriate -- though again, "the middle" is probably right.

Video: Stanton reacts to first BP session with Judge of '18

Xander Bogaerts, +2.2 wins (BP 1.4, FG 3.4)

Entering play on July 6, Bogaerts was hitting .308/.363/.455 (114 wRC+), which is more or less the exact line he'd had in 2015 and 2016. Then he was hit by a pitch, played through the injury and hit just .232/.321/.340 (74 wRC+) the remainder of the season. If he does that all year, then the 1.4 projection is probably right. But we saw two excellent seasons in 2015 and 2016, and we were going to see another one before the injury. Bogaerts hasn't quite become Francisco Lindor or Carlos Correa, yet an above-average season seems more than realistic. Take the high number.

David Price, +1.5 wins (BP 2.1, FG 3.6)

You know the Price story by now: A good Boston debut followed by an injury-plagued 2017 that ended with some strong postseason bullpen work. Price claims he's feeling good and ready to excel, and he'll need to be; both sites have him putting up under 2 wins in 2018. That makes the hesitancy here warranted, though he's never failed to perform when he's on the mound. We'll cautiously take the high number, knowing he could return to the disabled list at any time.

Dustin Pedroia, +1.4 wins (BP 1.4, FG 2.5)

The two sites don't disagree on his performance all that much, which makes sense because he's been around for so long. One sees a .351 OBP, the other a .358. One sees a .391 slugging, the other a .413.

The difference is in playing time, as BP has a conservative 423 plate-appearance estimate, and FG has him down for 595. Given the uncertain timing of Pedroia's return from knee surgery, it's probably fair to take the under on this one.

The answer here isn't that either site is "right" or "wrong," of course. Projection systems do pretty well for themselves, but they can't tell the future. What you can say for sure is that of the six division races, this is going to be the one that's the most difficult to call. The experts won't be able to come to consensus and neither, apparently, will the computers. Just like every year, the Red Sox and Yankees are the class of the East. It's too close to call. Again.

Mike Petriello is an analyst for MLB.com and the host of the Statcast podcast.

Yankees, White Sox top fits for Moustakas

Slugger still on market for clubs seeking power at hot corner
MLB.com @jonmorosi

For Eric Hosmer and J.D. Martinez, the eternal offseason is over. Hosmer's eight-year, $144 million contract with the Padres became official on Tuesday. Martinez's months-long staring contest with the Red Sox yielded a five-year, $110 million pact that includes two opt-out clauses.

Meanwhile, Mike Moustakas waits.

For Eric Hosmer and J.D. Martinez, the eternal offseason is over. Hosmer's eight-year, $144 million contract with the Padres became official on Tuesday. Martinez's months-long staring contest with the Red Sox yielded a five-year, $110 million pact that includes two opt-out clauses.

Meanwhile, Mike Moustakas waits.

Like Hosmer and Martinez, Moustakas is represented by agent Scott Boras. Unlike Hosmer and Martinez, he's not sure where he'll report for Spring Training.

Moustakas, 29, appeared to enter free agency with momentum, after slugging a franchise-record 38 home runs for the Royals in 2017. But the market at third base has been unforgiving, as All-Stars available in trade (Evan Longoria) and converted shortstops (Zack Cozart) landed jobs with the Giants and Angels, respectively.

Video: Must C Classic: Moustakas hits Royals' record 37th HR

One National League executive said Monday that the Yankees and White Sox have the best chances to land Moustakas, based on current market conditions. The Royals also could re-sign Moustakas, although their front office is prepared to start rebuilding with younger players. Some within the industry see the Cardinals as a fit for Moustakas, but they appear comfortable with incumbent third baseman Jedd Gyorko, who hit 50 home runs over the past two seasons.

The White Sox want to add a long-term third baseman in the next 12 months and could seize the opportunity to sign Moustakas now, rather than pursue free agents Manny Machado and Josh Donaldson during the 2018-19 offseason. Third base is the rare position at which the White Sox haven't procured an elite prospect in trades over the past couple years.

Video: KC@NYY: Moustakas goes back-to-back with solo homer

Yankees officials believe prospect Miguel Andujar can be their third baseman of the future, but it's unclear if he'll be ready by Opening Day. Reports have suggested the Yanks may want to avoid having a young starter at both third and second base, where prospect Gleyber Torres is involved in a spring roster competition.

The Yankees also are known to be pursuing starting-pitching options, including free agent Lance Lynn. It would be difficult for them to add both a No. 2 or No. 3 starting pitcher and Moustakas for no more than $15 million combined in 2018 payroll obligations; the Yanks want to keep their spending within that budget between now and Opening Day, to preserve the flexibility to acquire players at the Trade Deadline without surpassing the $197 million luxury-tax threshold.

For Moustakas, the presence of Machado and Donaldson in next offseason's free-agent class lessens the appeal of a one-year contract -- even at a high salary. Moustakas likely won't want to compete directly with fellow All-Stars for a limited number of jobs when he's another year older.

Video: CWS@KC: Moustakas belts two HRs against the White Sox

Other Hot Stove storylines, with Grapefruit League and Cactus League schedules about to begin:

• The Hosmer signing has opened up a number of trade avenues for the Padres, now that Wil Myers is being moved to an outfield corner. Sources say the Braves have inquired about the Friars' available position players, including 26-year-old outfielder Hunter Renfroe. He hit 26 home runs for San Diego as a rookie in 2017, but he will have an uncertain outlook for '18 if Myers shifts to right field, where Renfroe started 117 games last season.

Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos is known for his aggressiveness in trades and could view Renfroe as a long-term candidate for Atlanta's outfield, with veteran right fielder Nick Markakis likely departing as a free agent after 2018. The Braves also could consider trading for Corey Dickerson, who was surprisingly designated for assignment by the Rays.

Video: Outlook: Renfroe has growing power, OBP must improve

• Despite months of speculation that a Martinez signing would prompt the Red Sox to trade outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr., sources indicated Monday night that a deal involving Bradley is not likely before Opening Day. Boston is inclined to retain its current lineup depth, at least until it's apparent how often Hanley Ramirez will be able to play first base. Ramirez started only 17 games there in 2017 due to a left shoulder injury.

• Now that Hosmer is a Padre, the Royals can pursue a lower-cost first baseman for 2018. They are intrigued by free agent Mark Reynolds, who is coming off a good defensive season for the Rockies in which he hit 30 home runs with an .839 OPS. Free agent Logan Morrison, a Kansas City native, ranked fifth in the Majors with 38 home runs last year and would welcome the chance to play for his hometown team.

Jon Paul Morosi is a reporter for MLB.com and MLB Network.

Chicago White Sox, Atlanta Braves, New York Yankees, Kansas City Royals, Logan Morrison, Mike Moustakas, Hunter Renfroe, Mark Reynolds

Darvish impresses teammates with first live BP

Right-hander says he fits in 'naturally with the team'
MLB.com @CarrieMuskat

MESA, Ariz. -- Yu Darvish and Kyle Schwarber squared off for the first time since the National League Championship Series during a live batting practice session on Tuesday. In October, Darvish was on the Dodgers, but now he and Schwarber are teammates.

"It definitely reminded me of the NLCS, but he didn't swing," Darvish said of Schwarber, who did not take a swing at any of the five pitches from the right-hander. "I hope to face him again soon in practice games."

MESA, Ariz. -- Yu Darvish and Kyle Schwarber squared off for the first time since the National League Championship Series during a live batting practice session on Tuesday. In October, Darvish was on the Dodgers, but now he and Schwarber are teammates.

"It definitely reminded me of the NLCS, but he didn't swing," Darvish said of Schwarber, who did not take a swing at any of the five pitches from the right-hander. "I hope to face him again soon in practice games."

Actually, only Willson Contreras took a swing during the 25-pitch session. It seemed the Cubs players wanted to see what their new starting pitcher could do. Darvish was OK with that.

• Spring Training: Info | Tickets | Gear

"If [Schwarber] swung, it would probably go over the fence," Darvish said of the Cubs slugger, who hit a solo home run off him in Game 3 of the NLCS last October. "It's a good thing he didn't."

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

The right-hander, who signed a six-year deal with the Cubs a week ago, said his new teammates have been very friendly.

"It seems like I fit in naturally with the team," he said.

The Cubs are pretty impressed.

"He's insane," Contreras said, referring to Darvish's pitches. "The movement he has on the baseball, on the breaking balls and the fastball command he has is crazy."

Tweet from @CarrieMuskat: #Cubs hitters waited to give Darvish fist pump after session pic.twitter.com/DgIuIe6Zrw

"It's Feb. 20 -- wow," Cubs manager Joe Maddon of Darvish's first live batting practice. "My impression from the side as an opponent has always been that when he's right on, he has this low fastball with great carry. I walk up and that's all [the hitters] are talking about. Obviously, he's feeling pretty good about himself. His delivery looks clean, the ball was coming out of his hand well.

"I know it's early, I'm certain his adrenaline was flowing a little bit, but he threw the ball great -- great with great conviction," Maddon said. "I'm more of a purist. I looked at the delivery and how the ball was reacting at home plate and it was outstanding."

Video: Maddon discusses Darvish's bullpen session

Obviously, the pitchers have an edge during the live batting practice because they've been in camp longer. Still, Maddon liked what he saw.

"It's just that he's got that low carry working already," Maddon said, before explaining, "Low carry -- when a pitcher is able to start the ball out low in the strike zone, normally as a hitter, you process that it's going to drop more and become a ball. His pitch has the rotation on it so well, it hits that plane and stays on it. Your mind thinks it's going to go below. Guys who are able to do that -- I used to catch Mark Langston and he was like that. There are certain guys who spin it low and keep the plane and those guys are tough."

Even though he did pitch an extra month because of the World Series last year, Darvish said he's treating this Spring Training like any other one. The Cubs will be careful with his Cactus League outings. Contreras has some work to do, too. How will he call seven different pitches?

"I have to figure that out," Contreras said, laughing.

Have any of the Cubs players tried to learn Japanese?

"Not one," Darvish said. "I think [former Cubs infielder Munenori] Kawasaki got them too tired learning Japanese."

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat.

Chicago Cubs, Yu Darvish

Buckle up: Harper set for fascinating year

MLB.com @MikeLupica

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Somehow, even in the Spring Training cluster of red jerseys on a back field on the Nationals side of The Ballpark of The Palm Beaches, with the sound of T.I. blasting out of a Sony speaker set in the green grass, the morning organizes itself around Bryce Harper, who is about to begin the most interesting potential walk year anyone has ever had in baseball. Or maybe any professional sport.

Alex Rodriguez was still just 25 when he set a record for free agents by signing a 10-year contract with the Texas Rangers for $252 million prior to the 2001 season. Now it is expected that Harper might not just break a record for himself, but become the first free agent in sports history to earn a contract of more than $400 million. Harper is 25. He will be 26 when he becomes eligible for free agency at the end of this season.

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Somehow, even in the Spring Training cluster of red jerseys on a back field on the Nationals side of The Ballpark of The Palm Beaches, with the sound of T.I. blasting out of a Sony speaker set in the green grass, the morning organizes itself around Bryce Harper, who is about to begin the most interesting potential walk year anyone has ever had in baseball. Or maybe any professional sport.

Alex Rodriguez was still just 25 when he set a record for free agents by signing a 10-year contract with the Texas Rangers for $252 million prior to the 2001 season. Now it is expected that Harper might not just break a record for himself, but become the first free agent in sports history to earn a contract of more than $400 million. Harper is 25. He will be 26 when he becomes eligible for free agency at the end of this season.

They keep breaking into the big leagues younger. It just puts them on the market sooner. This isn't about Harper being the best player in the game. He's not -- even though he is sometimes discussed as if he were LeBron -- maybe because we have known about him since he was in high school. But he is a big talent and a big, good-looking, leading-man star. And as one manager who's not going to be unhappy if Harper leaves Washington after the season, said on Tuesday, "[Harper] likes the moment and that's a good thing. Because whatever club is going to pay him, what they're going to pay him is going to expect him to like the moment."

There was another moment, back when Derek Jeter was young, when he was walking through the Yankees' clubhouse one Sunday morning. I was sitting having coffee with David Cone, who watched Jeter breeze through the room and said with a smile, "It's good being Derek."

Oh, baby, is it good being Bryce Harper these days, as he is about to be the most coveted free agent since A-Rod.

Video: Outlook: Harper one of game's most feared hitters

So here Harper was on a back field in February, playing catch with Michael A. Taylor, slowly backing up toward center field until he was long-tossing with Taylor, before all the Nationals' outfielders would begin fly-ball drills. The fans hanging over the fence out here wore red No. 34 jerseys and black No. 34 jerseys, all expected to be collector's items when this season is over -- simply because the conventional wisdom is that Harper will move on to the Cubs or the Dodgers or the Yankees or the Philles when his contract ends. So there is the sense, even as the baseball season is just beginning for him and his team in the facility off Haverhill Road, at the opposite end of the complex from where the World Series champion Astros train, that this is the beginning of an ending for Harper as well.

The day before, as Harper met with the media here, he laid down his personal ground rules for the upcoming season and the general top of his free agency.

"Just want to let you guys know I will not be discussing anything relative to 2019, at all," Harper said. "I'm focused on this year. I'm focused on winning and playing hard, like every single year. So if you guys have any questions about anything after 2018, you can call [agent Scott Boras] and he can answer you guys. So I'm not going to answer any questions. So if you guys do [ask] anything or talk about anything about that, then I'll be walking right out the door."

Apparently he was under the impression that if there was a question about free agency, and he did walk out the door, that everyone in the room would have died of heartbreak in that moment. Harper is smart not to talk about 2019 in '18, because there is nothing for him in that conversation. But on a day when he had some notes for himself on his phone, he needed to be more facile with the delete key. Or he was simply one more modern athlete in desperate need of an editor.

Video: Bryce Harper not focusing on free agency

Harper is some ballplayer. But not Mike Trout. Not Jose Altuve. If all the best young players in baseball were on one field, he might not be picked ahead of Aaron Judge, either, and perhaps not before gifted shortstops like Manny Machado or Carlos Correa or even Francisco Lindor. But he is the hot, young star with the hot bat who's about to hit the market, and that is all that is going to matter -- even as Machado hits the market at the same time.

Harper has already been an MVP once, and might have been on his way to another MVP season when he sustained a bone bruise last August. He hit 42 home runs in his MVP season in 2015, the only time in his six-year career that he has hit more than 30. He has never had 100 RBIs. It won't matter, the way the injuries that have slowed him down, won't matter, when he becomes available. But it will be great sports theater to see how he does this season as he tries to make the Nationals be more than they have ever been in October and remind people, across an entire season, the way he can hit when he is at his very best.

Once, in that MVP year, Harper looked like the most interesting man in the baseball world. Now things have changed slightly. But he is still the most interesting walk year. "I got the top spot" was one of the lyrics from T.I. in the song to which they were all listening in West Palm this morning. There are always big stakes for all the top guys in sports. None bigger than the ones for Harper. You always hear the expression about them throwing the money on the table in sports. Never quite like this.

Mike Lupica is a columnist for MLB.com. He also writes for the New York Daily News.

Washington Nationals, Bryce Harper

Sources: Red Sox have 5-year deal with J.D.

Slugger coming off career-best 45 HRs, 104 RBIs in 2017
MLB.com @IanMBrowne

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The prolonged courtship of slugger J.D. Martinez has paid off for him and the Red Sox, as MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi reported via sources that the sides have reached agreement on a five-year, $110 million contract that includes opt-outs after the second and third years of the deal.

The club hasn't announced the signing, which is pending a physical.

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The prolonged courtship of slugger J.D. Martinez has paid off for him and the Red Sox, as MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi reported via sources that the sides have reached agreement on a five-year, $110 million contract that includes opt-outs after the second and third years of the deal.

The club hasn't announced the signing, which is pending a physical.

Hot Stove Tracker

Martinez gives the Red Sox the big bat they need to supplement a lineup that finished last in the American League with 168 homers last season. Even with the lack of power, Boston still won the AL East with 93 wins for the second straight season.

It took a while, but the Red Sox have now countered the blockbuster move the Yankees made earlier this winter when they acquired Giancarlo Stanton.

Video: Castrovince, Justice on Martinez signing with Red Sox

An outfielder, Martinez is likely to get a lot of his playing time for the Red Sox at designated hitter. The club has a strong starting outfield of Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Mookie Betts. Despite earlier trade rumors, sources have told MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi that the Red Sox are leaning toward keeping Bradley.

Video: Browne on how Cora will use Martinez in the outfield

Hanley Ramirez, who had been slotted in as Boston's starting designated hitter, will now share time at first base with Mitch Moreland. Ramirez can also DH when Martinez plays the outfield.

Boston's lineup on March 29 for Opening Day at Tropicana Field could look something like this:

1. Mookie Betts, RF
2. Andrew Benintendi, LF
3. Hanley Ramirez, 1B
4. J.D. Martinez, DH
5. Rafael Devers, 3B
6. Xander Bogaerts, SS
7. Jackie Bradley Jr., CF
8. Eduardo Nunez, 2B
9. Christian Vazquez, C
Chris Sale, SP

As far as the Red Sox were concerned, positional alignments were a non-factor in their pursuit of Martinez. They were focused on getting his bat.

Video: MLB Tonight: Where Martinez fits in Red Sox lineup

It's easy to see why. The 30-year-old Martinez had the best season of his career in 2017, mashing 45 homers in just 432 at-bats and leading the Major Leagues with a .690 slugging percentage.

Martinez did much of his damage down the stretch last season after getting traded from the Tigers to the D-backs. Arizona was the other main suitor for Martinez.

Fenway fans will now be treated to Martinez taking aim at the inviting Green Monster with his big, right-handed swing. However, this isn't to say Martinez is a pull hitter. He has an all-field approach with plenty of power to center and right-center.

Video: J.D. Martinez reportedly agrees to deal with Red Sox

The Red Sox established Martinez as their primary target for this offseason back in November.

After Boston offered Martinez a five-year deal worth more than $100 million a few weeks back, the sides remained at a stalemate until talks finally surged forward with momentum on Monday.

Video: Must C Classic: Martinez hits four homers, plates six

Baseball's offseason has started to pick up in recent days, most notably when first baseman Eric Hosmer agreed to terms with the Padres on an eight-year deal on Saturday.

Rather than moving ahead to alternatives when negotiations were stalled with Martinez, president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski stayed focused on his top target.

It was Dombrowski who took a flyer on Martinez with the Tigers on March 24, 2014, just two days after the outfielder had been released by the Astros.

Martinez swiftly emerged into a threat for Detroit and he was the best slugger on the free-agent market this winter.

The Red Sox will have a lineup led by Martinez, Betts, Benintendi and slugging 21-year-old third baseman Devers. The club also expects talented shortstop Bogaerts to regain his form after an injury-plagued second half last season. Bradley and Ramirez are two other players who battled through injuries in 2017, and an uptick is certainly possible this season.

Combine that with a pitching staff that includes an elite ace in Chris Sale, a top closer in Craig Kimbrel and a five-time All-Star lefty coming back from an injury in David Price, and the Red Sox feel good about their chances to make a deep run in October after losing in the AL Division Series the last two years.

Fantasy spin | Fred Zinkie (@FredZinkieMLB)

While replicating his astonishing 2017 pace (45 homers, 104 RBIs in 119 games) will be a tall task, Martinez can be counted on to make another run at 40-plus homers and rank among the AL leaders in RBIs as part of a talented Red Sox lineup. The slugger warrants consideration during Round 2 of 2018 drafts, within the vicinity of star sluggers such as Kris Bryant, Carlos Correa and Joey Votto. While manager Alex Cora's immediate plans for Martinez are unclear at this time, this signing could reduce the playing time available for Moreland, Ramirez and Bradley. As a result, all three can now go undrafted in shallow leagues.

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.

Boston Red Sox, J.D. Martinez

The new pace of play rules, explained

MLB.com @castrovince

Coming off a 2017 season that saw the highest average game time (3 hours, 5 minutes) in history, Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association had much discussion prior to Spring Training on how to speed things up. On Monday, Commissioner Rob Manfred announced some rule changes aimed at pace of play.

Here's everything you need to know about those changes:

Coming off a 2017 season that saw the highest average game time (3 hours, 5 minutes) in history, Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association had much discussion prior to Spring Training on how to speed things up. On Monday, Commissioner Rob Manfred announced some rule changes aimed at pace of play.

Here's everything you need to know about those changes:

What's different?

There will be limits on mound visits, the length of time between innings and during pitching changes.

MLB announces pace of play initiatives for '18

But what about the pitch clock?

Despite many rumblings about the potential implementation of a pitch clock, that change will not be made for 2018.

How many mound visits are allowed?

Six per team per nine innings. If a game goes to extra innings, each team will receive one additional non-pitching-change mound visit per inning. Note, too, that the prior rule that a pitcher must be removed on the second visit by a manager or coach in a given inning remains in effect.

Video: Hot Stove on batter's box rule, replay review changes

OK, so what qualifies as a "mound visit"?

This is important, because it's not just a manager or coach visit to the mound to meet with the pitcher. It is also a player leaving his position to confer with the pitcher or a pitcher leaving the mound to confer with another player, regardless of where the visit occurs or the length of the visit.

That said, there are interactions that don't qualify as mound visits, including:

• If the visit is made due to an injury (or potential injury) to the pitcher
• If the pitcher and position player interact between batters without relocating
• If a position player goes to the mound to clean his spikes in rainy conditions
• If the visit is made immediately after the announcement of an offensive substitution

• Players, managers react to changes

Are there any instances in which a team will get extra mound visits?

Just one. If a team has used up all of its mound visits but a home-plate umpire determines that the pitcher and catcher did not have a shared understanding of the location or type of pitch that had been signaled (in other words, if the two were "crossed up"), the umpire may, upon request of the catcher, allow the catcher to make a brief mound visit.

Note that the "cross-up" situation applies to a team's allotment of six visits per nine innings if the team has not already exhausted its allotment.

Video: Changes to inning breaks in pace of play initiative

How long will the breaks between innings and pitching changes be?

As has been the case since the start of the 2016 season, the breaks will be as follows: two minutes and five seconds for locally broadcast games and 2:25 for national televised games. For tiebreaker and postseason games it will be 2:55. Previously, the between-innings break was 2:25 for locally broadcast games and 2:45 for nationally broadcast games.

When does the inning break begin?

On the final out of the inning, unless that out is a close play that may be reviewed (in which case the timer will begin as soon as the umpire signals an out) or unless the pitcher ends the inning on base, on-deck or at-bat (in which case the timer will begin when the pitcher leaves the dugout for the mound) or the catcher ends the inning on base, on-deck or at-bat (in which case the timer will reset when the catcher enters the dugout and another catcher must begin warming up the pitcher).

During the playing of "God Bless America" or any other extended-inning event previously approved by the Office of the Commissioner, the timer will begin at the conclusion of the song or event.

When does the pitching-change break begin?

As soon as the relief pitcher crosses the warning track (or foul line for on-field bullpens).

How will the time limitations be implemented?

With 25 seconds left on the timer, the umpire will signal to the pitcher to complete his last warmup pitch, which must be delivered before the clock strikes 20. At 20 seconds, the batter will be announced and must leave the on-deck circle. At zero seconds, the pitcher must began his motion to deliver the first pitch of the inning. (Even if everybody is ready, the pitcher cannot deliver the first pitch more than five seconds before the end of the timer, so that the broadcast is ensured to be back from commercial break.)

There are a few special circumstances in which the break will be extended, including:

• A delay in normal warmup activities through no fault of the players, such as an injury or medical emergency, equipment issues or playing field or grounds crew issues
• The umpire believes the pitcher is at legitimate risk of injury if he does not receive additional time to throw warmup pitches
• The umpire believes the batter is at risk of injury if he does not receive additional time to enter the batter's box
• Any other circumstances in which, in the umpire's judgment, more time is needed

So are pitchers still guaranteed eight warmup pitches?

Nope. They can throw as many warmup pitches as they are able in the allotted time, but the eight-pitch guarantee has been removed from the rule book.

What happens to those who break the rules?

Monday's announcement promises "progressive discipline" for players who consistently or flagrantly violate the time limits.

Will we see the pitch clock added in 2019?

It's still possible. The Commissioner's Office will monitor how much these changes impact the average time and the pace of games, and it is still possible that the pitch clock is imposed, with or without agreement from the MLB Players' Association, in future seasons.

MLB and the MLBPA have agreed to meet during the 2018 season to continue to discuss pace of play.

What about the batter's box rule installed in 2015?

This rule -- which requires hitters to keep at least one foot in the box between pitches -- is still in effect, though enforcement in recent seasons has not exactly been strict. It is possible that the increased attention on pace of play leads to increased enforcement.

What about the time it takes for replay reviews?

MLB is installing capability for all club video review rooms to receive direct slow-motion camera angles in an effort to expedite that process.

Any other changes?

New phone lines will be installed connecting the video review rooms and the dugout. MLB will monitor communication on those lines to prevent their use for sign-stealing.

Anthony Castrovince has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2004. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince.

Boon for Ohtani? Angels lower RF wall

MLB.com @_dadler

The Angels will lower the height of the home run boundary line in right field at Angel Stadium this season, the team announced Tuesday.

The height will be changed from 18 feet -- the top of the high wall in right field -- to eight feet.

The Angels will lower the height of the home run boundary line in right field at Angel Stadium this season, the team announced Tuesday.

The height will be changed from 18 feet -- the top of the high wall in right field -- to eight feet.

"The adjustment to the line in right field will increase the fan experience at Angel Stadium while creating an environment that is equitable for both hitters and pitchers," Angels general manager Billy Eppler said in a statement.

The new home run boundary will be marked by a yellow line that will run along the outfield wall from the right-field side of the outfield gate in right field to the point in center field where the wall angle changes.

Angels vice president of communications Tim Mead told reporters on Tuesday that the change in the home run boundary was due to the installation of a new out-of-town scoreboard at Angel Stadium, as well as "philosophical changes."

While the Angels, of course, are about to begin their first season with left-handed-hitting Shohei Ohtani in their lineup -- who could take advantage of the lower home run height to his pull side -- the change was decided on before the team signed the Japanese two-way phenom.

David Adler is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @_dadler.

Los Angeles Angels

Padres' bright future attracted Hosmer

Direction of franchise was important factor in 1B signing 8-year deal
MLB.com

Eric Hosmer is officially the newest member of the Padres.

One day after finalizing an eight-year, $144 million contract with Hosmer, San Diego introduced him as its cornerstone for the foreseeable future.

Eric Hosmer is officially the newest member of the Padres.

One day after finalizing an eight-year, $144 million contract with Hosmer, San Diego introduced him as its cornerstone for the foreseeable future.

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

The 28-year-old Hosmer was considering offers from a few other teams -- including the Royals, his former club -- for several months during a slow-developing market this offseason, but in the end, he saw the Padres as the best fit.

"Ultimately, it came down to me really liking this organization and the direction it's going," Hosmer said. "I've had a few good moments in my career in San Diego up to this point, and I look forward to having a lot more great moments there."

Spring info | Tickets | Schedule

A native of South Miami, Fla., Hosmer spent the first seven years of his career with Kansas City. He batted .284/.342/.439 with 127 home runs and 566 RBIs in 1,048 games during his time with the Royals, and he was selected to the American League All-Star team in 2016.

Hosmer set career highs with 162 games played, 192 hits and a .318/.385/.498 slash line in 2017.

"As different waves of Padres come up, he's going to be stabilizing for us, a pillar for us," general manager A.J. Preller said of Hosmer.

Video: Preller on excitement over Padres signing Hosmer

The memory of Hosmer's close friend and fallen former teammate, Yordano Ventura, remains embedded in him. When Ventura was killed in a car accident in his native Dominican Republic in February of last year, the tragedy shook Hosmer and the Royals organization.

Though Hosmer left Kansas City to sign with the Padres, he will bring an homage to Ventura with him -- Hosmer plans to don No. 30, the number Ventura wore when they were Royals teammates.

Video: Hosmer honors the late Ventura by wearing No. 30

Hosmer was known to have a close relationship with Ventura, and the first baseman was even seen to be a mentor to the young pitcher. Hosmer spoke on behalf of the Royals organization in a pregame ceremony remembering Ventura ahead of Kansas City's home opener last year, its first home game since Ventura had been killed at the age of just 25. Hosmer also wore an arm band reading "Ace 30" during the World Baseball Classic to pay tribute to Ventura.

Video: Hosmer reflects on seven years with Royals

Hosmer had previously worn No. 35, which was retired by the Padres in recognition of former National League Cy Young Award winner Randy Jones, who pitched for the club from 1973-80.

"I spoke to Glenn Hoffman yesterday, and I know he wears No. 30 and basically told him it would mean a lot to me if I can wear No. 30 and continue Yordano's legacy," Hosmer said. "It really meant a lot to me, and Hoff was more than open of letting me carry on that number. And like I told him, I'll wear it with pride each and every day, and it's something that myself and the core guys with Kansas City want to continue to make sure that Yordano's legacy is lived out."

Daniel Kramer and Oliver Macklin are reporters for MLB.com.

San Diego Padres, Eric Hosmer

Larkin helping Senzel adjust to shortstop

Reds' top prospect trying out new position during Spring Training
MLB.com @m_sheldon

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The original idea was that Reds top prospect Nick Senzel would be exposed to several positions throughout the infield and outfield to get comfortable and more versatile. But in the short term, Senzel appears slated to play only shortstop and third base, which may not be Senzel's primary position for much longer.

"My focus is on shortstop," Senzel said on Tuesday. "I'll take some reps at other spots, but I think third base is a little bit to the side right now."

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The original idea was that Reds top prospect Nick Senzel would be exposed to several positions throughout the infield and outfield to get comfortable and more versatile. But in the short term, Senzel appears slated to play only shortstop and third base, which may not be Senzel's primary position for much longer.

"My focus is on shortstop," Senzel said on Tuesday. "I'll take some reps at other spots, but I think third base is a little bit to the side right now."

That could change later in camp, but Reds manager Bryan Price wanted to keep things simple.

• Spring Training: Info | Tickets | Gear

"We don't want to get him spread out too much," Price said. "I think he played exclusively third base last year. To move him is enough of a challenge."

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

During bunt shift defensive drills on Monday, Price was watching Senzel from behind the shortstop spot. Also there was Hall of Fame shortstop and camp instructor Barry Larkin.

Senzel felt comfortable, as he became used to the differences between handling bunts at shortstop compared to third base.

"At third base, you're used to crashing and reading the bunt," Senzel said. "At shortstop, it's more covering the bag or being in a specific place at a specific time. I thought I caught on pretty quick. There are a lot of people there to help me and guide me through it."

Larkin is certainly one of those people. On Tuesday during drills to turn force plays he was behind Senzel as he took ground balls and fired throws to second base.

"Don't stop, don't stop," Larkin called out, wanting Senzel to field and throw in a fluid manner.

"He's great," Senzel said of Larkin before the workout. "He's one of the best to ever do it. Anything that he says, you listen."

Video: Senzel on learning new defensive positions in spring

Price wasn't ready to assess how Senzel was playing at shortstop.

"I'm looking forward to seeing him play, not only in practice, but in games and seeing what he does instinctively," Price said.

"I just look forward to continuing to get better at the position, learning it and getting more reps," Senzel said.

The organization's No. 1 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline, Senzel is blocked at his primary spot by Eugenio Suarez. Besides shortstop, he will get chances to play second base and both corner-outfield spots at some point this spring. At shortstop, Cincinnati currently has Jose Peraza, 23, who is still developing.

• Reds' Top 30 prospects

"The idea to play the outfield or play second base is in large part if there's an injury or lack of performance issue that creates an opportunity to play or he is ready to be added to the club and we've got to find a place where he can play more frequently than others," Price said.

"The first thing he's got to do is come out and perform and drive that conversation when it is the right time to get him up here and what position he should be playing when he does arrive."

Video: Top Prospects: Nick Senzel, 3B, Reds

Stephenson has sore neck
Reds pitchers have been largely healthy following the first week of their workouts. The lone exception is rotation candidate Robert Stephenson, who is being held back a little. But Stephenson's issue isn't serious.

"A little bit of a crick in his neck. He's fine, the arm is great," Price said. "We're making sure the neck doesn't get him in bad habits."

Reds undecided on starter for spring opener
The Reds open Cactus League play on Friday against the Indians, but Price wasn't ready to announce his pitchers just yet.

"We want to get through the first [live] batting practice before we announce it," Price said.

Reds pitchers faced hitters in live batting practice on Tuesday morning. Bullpen candidates Cody Reed and Zack Weiss were among those who threw.

Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Cincinnati Reds, Nick Senzel, Robert Stephenson

Red Sox trade Brentz to Pirates for cash

MLB.com @basebollie

The Red Sox and Pirates have agreed to a deal that will send outfielder Bryce Brentz to Pittsburgh in exchange for cash considerations, the clubs announced Tuesday afternoon.

The trade clears up a spot on Boston's 40-man roster to make room for J.D. Martinez, whom the Red Sox reportedly signed to a five-year deal on Monday. The club has yet to announce that signing.

The Red Sox and Pirates have agreed to a deal that will send outfielder Bryce Brentz to Pittsburgh in exchange for cash considerations, the clubs announced Tuesday afternoon.

The trade clears up a spot on Boston's 40-man roster to make room for J.D. Martinez, whom the Red Sox reportedly signed to a five-year deal on Monday. The club has yet to announce that signing.

Brentz clubbed a career-high 31 home runs in 120 games for Triple-A Pawtucket in 2017 and was named to the International League midseason and postseason All-Star teams.

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

The 29-year-old batted .271 and slugged .529 with 75 runs scored and 85 RBIs for the PawSox last season.

A first-round Draft pick by Boston in 2010, Brentz has hit .287 with five doubles, one home run and nine RBIs in 34 career Major League games, all with the Red Sox.

Brentz is a lifetime .262 hitter in 716 games at the Minor League level.

Oliver Macklin is a reporter for MLB.com based in Washington, D.C. Follow him on Twitter at @basebollie.

Boston Red Sox, Pittsburgh Pirates, Bryce Brentz

Judge, Stanton add ding, zing to first spring BP

Fans pack Steinbrenner Field as Yankees sluggers put on inaugural show
MLB.com @BryanHoch

TAMPA, Fla. -- Sixty players passed through the runway that leads from the home clubhouse to the dugout at George M. Steinbrenner Field on Monday morning, but all eyes seemed to be locked upon Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton.

Hacking at batting-practice fastballs for the first time as teammates, the headliners of last summer's Home Run Derby generated much the same sizzle as they did that memorable night in Miami, with each of their swings prompting audible reactions from an estimated crowd of about 2,000.

TAMPA, Fla. -- Sixty players passed through the runway that leads from the home clubhouse to the dugout at George M. Steinbrenner Field on Monday morning, but all eyes seemed to be locked upon Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton.

Hacking at batting-practice fastballs for the first time as teammates, the headliners of last summer's Home Run Derby generated much the same sizzle as they did that memorable night in Miami, with each of their swings prompting audible reactions from an estimated crowd of about 2,000.

• Judge-Stanton BP debut goes as expected

"The fans, the moment we touched the dirt, they were buzzing and ready for us to get in the cage," Stanton said. "That was really cool. Like nothing I've ever experienced in the spring."

Video: Stanton talks about the fans at batting practice

With the Major League home run leaders from last season batting in a group that also included Gary Sanchez and Jacoby Ellsbury, Stanton won the first pinstriped mini-Home Run Derby of 2018 during Monday's full-squad workout, cracking four blasts to Judge's two.

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

More importantly, the showcase provided a sneak preview of the rock-star atmosphere that promises to follow the Yankees during the 2018 season, with Judge and Stanton shining as the team's brightest lights. The Yankees recently opted to open gates three hours early for Spring Training home games so fans won't miss a swing.

"I think they understand the buzz," manager Aaron Boone said. "They understand it's always going to be something that's talked about, certainly at home, but even when we go on the road. Frankly, I think that's a good thing, because it helps promote our sport."

Video: Boone reacts to Judge, Stanton taking first BP

While many of their 30 swings weren't in midseason form, Judge and Stanton each connected for notable drives. Judge cleared a grandstand during his final round, while Stanton clipped the "F" in George M. Steinbrenner Field atop the scoreboard. Judge was impressed by Stanton's drives into the wind, saying, "You can just hear it. It comes off his bat different."

Video: MLB Tonight: Judge on fan excitement in early camp

"From what I've seen so far, he's a guy that's going to go out there and do his job, get the work done," Judge said. "That's what I saw in his cages. He's preparing the right way, I saw him in the weight room going through his normal routine. He's just here to work."

• Yankees' Spring Training information

With the focus on Judge and Stanton, Sanchez's strokes were reduced to a footnote. The slugging backstop crushed several impressive drives, including one that struck a concrete pillar beyond the wall in left-center field.

Tweet from @Yankees: *Kraken bat crack* pic.twitter.com/BeCwJpWQLZ

"Gary rakes. That's what I think," Boone said. "He's special. He gets in that box, and yeah, I do think he gets overlooked. I can't wait to see what he's going to do again this year."

It was the first on-field hitting session of the year for Judge, who had arthroscopic surgery on his left shoulder in November. Judge said that "nothing is holding me back," and that he never swings at max effort during batting practice.

Video: Outlook: Judge looks to follow up stellar rookie year

"My job is to barrel up the baseball as many times as I can," Judge said. "I've got to stick to my routine. It doesn't matter if there's zero people in the stands or if it's packed. I've just got to work on certain things so I can go in the game and perform."

Stanton said that the fans did not affect his workout in any way, though he joked that he was "playing pepper with the cage a little bit." Stanton said that he typically tries to hit the ball to right field, focusing on back spin and staying inside the ball rather than trying to drop jaws in the crowd.

Video: MLB Tonight: Stanton reacts to fan turnout for BP

"I know they're here for the entertainment, but we've got to get our work in, too," Stanton said. "That's my usual approach in BP. That's what got me to this point. It's not going to change."

Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow h