With so many teams unwilling to spend big money this offseason, the Red Sox are an outlier, Evan Drellich of NBC Sports Boston writes. The BoSox have no fear of blowing past the $197MM luxury tax threshold, which Drellich posits puts them in a powerful position. And if they land J.D. Martinez (as expected), he argues that it could finally begin to break up the logjam atop the free agent market. President of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski confirmed Friday that Boston’s still seeking both a power bat (Martinez fits that description) and a left-handed reliever, per Drellich. Dombrowski also acknowledged that this has been an “unusual” winter, one that hasn’t necessarily been ideal for the sport. “I don’t think it’s a good situation that we’re sitting here on Feb. 2, there’s 110 free agents. I don’t think that’s good for the game, necessarily,” he said. “Does a change of system make it happen? I don’t know, we just got a new basic agreement a year ago. So, both sides agreed to that and were willing to sign it. … I don’t think you can only look at this winter time, I think then you have to look at the future, then you can analyze that.”
A few more notes from the American League…
- Orioles second baseman Jonathan Schoop will have his arbitration hearing Feb. 8, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com tweets. After enjoying a career season in 2017, the 26-year-old requested a $9MM salary, while the Orioles offered $7.5MM. There has reportedly been some discord between the two sides in salary negotiations, which could bode poorly for the Orioles’ chances of keeping Schoop past 2019 – his final year of arb eligibility.
- Athletics catcher Bruce Maxwell has a Feb. 12 settlement conference in Phoenix stemming from his October arrest on charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and disorderly conduct, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The fact there’s a conference opens the door for a plea deal with the state of Arizona, Slusser notes, and the expectation is that they will come to an agreement prior to spring training. If no deal is reached, Maxwell is scheduled to go to trial Aug. 9, which was pushed back from the original date of April 10, according to Slusser.
- Minnesota’s unexpected return to the playoffs in 2017 helped the club land free agent reliever Zach Duke this winter, as the left-hander spurned other teams for the Twins’ $2MM deal (via Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com). “I had a couple offers out there, but after examining rosters, the way teams are put together, atmosphere, and talking to people I knew that had been in certain places, the Twins just made sense,” Duke explained. “This team is on the edge of being really good for a while and has the same type of feel as the Astros with a bunch of really good young position players, but maybe a pitcher or two away.” After undergoing Tommy John surgery as a member of the Cardinals in October 2016, Duke didn’t debut last season until July, and he only recorded 18 1/3 innings on the year. Heading into 2018, the soon-to-be 35-year-old is confident he’ll return to his pre-surgery effectiveness.