While the focus this time of year is obviously on trade possibilities, the All-Star break also provides reporters an opportunity to ask players about their own long-term preferences. It’s not surprising, then, that we’ve seen a run of stories on players who won’t be traded away, but also aren’t under long-term control.
- The Red Sox have certainly enjoyed an excellent opening run, led by excellent performances from a number of core players. It’d be a surprise to see any mid-season dealmaking, but the club might be expected to look into some new arrangements in the offseason to come. Closer Craig Kimbrel represents the most pressing situation, since he’ll be a free agent. As Christopher Smith of MassLive.com reports, Kimbrel says he and his family would “love to stay” but certainly indicated he’ll wait to see what the market bears. Though he only arrived a few months ago, slugger J.D. Martinez says he’d be open to exploring a new pact that might eliminate some of his opt-out opportunities, as he tells Chris Cotillo of MassLive.com. Of course, there’s plenty of time left before he’s scheduled to have a shot at returning to the open market (post-2019), and there’s reason to wonder whether the organization really would want to pay up to enhance its control rights. In between those two players in terms of contract situation is staff ace Chris Sale. Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe argues that, with one more option year left to go, the Boston organization ought to look into locking up the 29-year-old for the foreseeable future.
- It seemed at one time that infielder Jed Lowrie would feature as a trade chip, but the surging Athletics obviously now have no plans to sell. Instead, attention has turned to the question whether he might end up returning to Oakland at season’s end. As John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle writes, Lowrie says the front office has “expressed interest this time” around — unlike the prior time his contract with the A’s was nearing an end. Lowrie, a first-time All-Star in his 11th MLB season, indicated that he’d be open to working something out to return for a sixth campaign in Oakland, though it’s not clear whether any effort at mid-season talks will be made.
- It’s a similar story for Braves outfielder Nick Markakis, another respected veteran who finally earned an All-Star nod. As Gabriel Burns of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes, Markakis indicated he expects to keep playing after his contract runs out this fall — which is no surprise given his strong performance thus far. Whether that’ll take place in Atlanta or elsewhere, though, isn’t yet on his mind. “We’ll deal with that stuff in the offseason when the time comes,” says the veteran.
- Those sorts of questions have long floated around White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu, who stands out as a quality veteran on a very youthful roster. As Steve Greenberg of the Chicago Sun-Times reports, Abreu says he hopes to have a chance to win before his time is up in Chicago. His focus is on “just trying to enjoy the moment with the team” at the moment, but the slugger also indicated that he’s at least open to spending more time on the South Side. “I’d like to stay with this team,” says Abreu. “And I’m going to do all in my power to make this team good as soon as possible.”