Arizona Diamondbacks: Is J. D. Martinez headed to Boston?

Right-hander Zack Greinke says he is focused for the season ahead. (Norm Hall / Getty Images)
Right-hander Zack Greinke says he is focused for the season ahead. (Norm Hall / Getty Images) /

GM Mike Hazen of the Arizona Diamondbacks would not comment on the prospect of restricting contracts to free money.

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – The hot Arizona Diamondbacks rumor here in the winter meetings on Tuesday was a J.D. Martinez sighting. Easily the most coveted free agent on the baseball market these days, Martinez, and his new agent Scott Boras, command the most attention and the most dollar signs.

When Boras previously announced the price for Martinez would start at $200 million for an unspecified length of the contract, that immediately put the Arizona Diamondbacks, his previous employer, out of range.

Despite the wishful pronouncement of Derrick Hall, the club’s president during a charity event last month, that the Diamondbacks will be “aggressive,” there is little chance to retain Martinez. Simply, Arizona cannot compete with deep pocket teams.

One rumor is circulating here that Martinez was in town to meet with the Boston Red Sox, among other potential suitors.

For the Diamondbacks to open their checkbook, the club would have to ask Yasmany Tomas ($68 million) and Zack Greinke ($206 million), two players with the most substantial contracts, to restructure their existing deals and free money for Martinez.

Meeting with the Arizona media here covering the winter meetings, Hazen refused to discuss any option, any specific player and flatly refused to name names.

Telling Call to the Pen that his policy not to specifically address any scenario involving players, Hazen declined to discuss any discussion he is having with teams and/or agents.

"“There has been nothing on the restructure of any contract,” Hazen said. “No, no plans to discuss this in the future.”"

Still, the possibility of freeing money for Martinez remains tantalizing. On Day Two of the winter meetings here, reported that the Texas Rangers are interested in Greinke. Two years into that $206 mil deal, Greinke’s economic burden could immediately be lifted, and that money available.

Because of the confidence level, Hazen retains in prospects, the loss of Greinke could be softening.

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During his session Tuesday with Arizona reporters, Hazen said the starting rotation, overall, is basically in place and strong.

He referred to Braden Shipley, Anthony Banda, and Matt Koch several times.

That might indicate Hazen is considering trading Grenke and also lefty Patrick Corbin.

With one year left under control, Corbin is rumored to draw the attention of the New York Yankees.

Another factor within the rotation scenario is the status of right-hander Shelby Miller, who underwent Tommy John surgery in late April.

In the past, the Diamondbacks’ medical staff has been conservative with pitchers recovering from the Tommy John experience. While the traditional rehab period is around 12 months, the Diamondbacks set aside 14 to 16 months for complete recovery.

That puts Miller on track to rejoin his teammates around the All-Star game. At this point, Hazen discounts a time window, and only points out, “I expect to have him back sometime during the season.”

All of which could make an interesting final day of the meetings on Wednesday.

Whether Hazen finishes a deal here in central Florida before the conclusion of this annual festival is not of concern. Hazen told Call to the Pen any transactions between now and the start of spring training remains the priority and not just this week.

Looking back

In the critical Game Two of the NLDS last October, the Los Angeles Dodgers managed to unlock lefty Robbie Ray’s “code.” During the season, Ray not only mastered the Dodgers but the NL West.

Against NL West opponents, Ray went 9-2 with a 2.60 ERA in 15 starts. Against LA in that game two, Ray allowed four hits and walked four in just 4 1/3 innings of work.

Ray lost that contest, 8-5 and then Yu Darvish beat the Diamondbacks in game three in Chase Field to sweep the series.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, mindful of Ray’s break-out season, told Call to the Pen in early September his team was out “to break the code.” In the post-season, Roberts and the Dodgers found a way.

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Pitching in the wild-card win over the Rockies three days before his start in the NLDS, Ray went in behind starter Zack Greinke, pitched 2 1/3 innings and allowed one run.

Yet, Ray’s rush in the wild card game appeared to upset his regular routine, and allow the Dodgers to take advantage. In discussing knocking Ray out in the fifth inning of Game Two, Roberts told Call to the Pen Tuesday during the winter meetings that his team remained patient.

"“Robbie is an elite pitcher, and gave us fits all season,” Roberts said. “We know he was on short rest, and waited him out. Plus, that was one given night in which our guys put together some real good at-bats.”"