Matt Adams signed with the Nationals fairly early in the offseason knowing full well that regular at-bats were going to be difficult to come by, writes Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post. Adams prioritized playing for a contending club with a good clubhouse culture — he consulted his friend Chris Heisey about the organization before signing — over holding out for an opportunity for an everyday or near-everyday role. Castillo speaks to Adams himself, manager Dave Martinez and hitting coach Kevin Long about the slugger’s role with the club and the value he can bring off the bench. The Nationals, it should be noted, are giving Adams some looks in the outfield once again this spring and could play him in left field from time to time in 2017 — as the Cardinals and Braves both did in 2017.
More from the game’s Eastern divisions…
- Red Sox designated hitter/outfielder J.D. Martinez chats with Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald about his perceived defensive shortcomings in the outfield, explaining that his reputation as a defensive liability is frustrating. Martinez acknowledges that his glovework wasn’t at its best in 2016, when he admits to having become a bit timid around the outfield wall after breaking his elbow when crashing into the wall partway through the year. “…I got scared of running into walls because I didn’t want to get hurt again,” Martinez candidly admits. “… So balls off the wall, I just let it go and I got penalized for it.” The slugger adds that his foot injury significantly hampered his range in 2017, but he rejoined the Tigers as soon as possible as a means of getting his bat back into the lineup. Martinez, to his credit, had average to above-average ratings from both DRS and UZR from 2014-15, and he’s anxious to prove that he can still play an adequate outfield corner with better health.
- The Marlins aren’t yet certain if veteran infielder Martin Prado will be healthy enough to take the field come Opening Day, writes Andre C. Fernandez of the Miami Herald. The team’s hope is that Prado will be able to play in some Grapefruit League games by the middle of this month, but there’s still no set timeline for when he’ll get into the lineup. If Prado isn’t ready for the opneer, it could pave the way for prospect Brian Anderson, who made his MLB debut late in the 2017 season, to get a look at the hot corner and prove that he’s capable of sticking at the big league level. The Marlins won’t push Anderson into that role if they don’t feel he’s ready, though skipper Don Mattingly had plenty of praise for Anderson’s work at third, his swing and his overall work ethic.
- Nathan Eovaldi’s contract with the Rays contains $3.5MM worth of incentives based on starting and $2.375MM worth of relief-based incentives, reports Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. The organization maintains that it is “definitely” committed to using Eovaldi as a starter, per Topkin, and that’s the right-hander’s preference as well. “I definitely want to be a starter and hold it out throughout the entire year,” Eovaldi tells Topkin. That said, it stands to reason that if Eovaldi struggles in the rotation, a move to the ’pen is a possibility — especially given Tampa Bay’s deep stock of upper-level arms in the minors. As Topkin notes, many have long wondered what the hard-throwing Eovaldi could do in a relief role, especially when looking at his career struggles facing a lineup for the third time (.673 opponent OPS first time through the order, .692 second time, .890 third time).
- The Orioles remain open to adding a third free-agent starter after signing Andrew Cashner and bringing Chris Tillman back, writes MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko. They’re still checking in on everyone from Alex Cobb and Lance Lynn to former Oriole Jake Arrieta, he notes. That said, Kubatko adds that the O’s are heartened by the way their internal options have looked thus far, with Mike Wright, David Hess, Yefry Ramirez, and Rule 5 picks Nestor Cortes and Pedro Araujo all of interest to Baltimore decision-makers.