Alright, the Tigers aren’t waiting for the Winter Meetings. They’ve already inked Brandon Inge, Jhonny Peralta and Joaquin Benoit to multi-year deals and now it looks like the Tigers are very close to inking Victor Martinez to a four year, $50 million deal. It looks like the only the thing preventing this from being a done deal is a physical examination so it’s safe to say we’re introducing our newest Tiger.
Now the big question is, where does Victor Martinez fit. For the front end of this deal, I can see him playing mostly catcher but his defensive skills have been mediocre the past couple of seasons. Bill James +/- has him below average but of course he makes up with that with his stick. He has a career OPS of .838 and he pretty much matched that in Boston last year in 127 games. Even if he finishes with just an .800 OPS (he’s finished lower then that in only one year since 2003) it would be a huge upgrade at the position.
The big question is, then what happens to Alex Avila. He had a rough year at the plate in 2010 but he’s only going to be 24 when the season starts. So what you’ll probably have is Martinez being the primary catcher through 2011 and maybe 2012 while Avila gets a little more seasoned. Then on the back end of Martinez’s deal, we’ll probably see him begin to transition to a full time designated hitter.
Another idea would have Martinez be the back up catcher but then be a full time designated hitter. That would leave Carlos Guillen’s future in doubt because with one year left on his contract, he’s slowly getting squeezed out of any of the potential positions he can play. If I were a betting man, we’ll see Martinez at catcher, Avila backing him up then Guillen at DH at least to start the season. If Guillen struggles out of the box, then we’ll see some shuffling.
Martinez is a Class A free agent so the Tigers will lose their pick. They also didn’t offer any of their free agents arbitration so they won’t be getting on back. Let’s hope the front office knows what they’re doing because those first round draft picks have been good for us.
Speaking of arbitration, the Tigers had five potentials and none of them got an offer. Magglio Ordonez, Johnny Damon, Jeremy Bonderman, Bobby Seay and Gerald Laird can all now sign with another team without any compensation coming back to the Tigers.
Earlier in the week, I talked about the Detroit Pride Cheerleaders. They’ve extended the deal on their calendar (check out the bottom of the page) and you can still get it for $10. If you’re going to the Lions game, they’re going to be there on Thursday.