11/26/10 9:25 AM EST
V-Mart joins Tigers, expected to primarily DH
Slugger signs four-year contract, will do some catching
By Anthony Castrovince / MLB.com
The team acknowledged the signing in a press release on Friday morning. It confirmed the length but not the dollar amount of the contract.
"We are thrilled to add a premier hitter like Victor Martinez to the Tigers organization," Tigers CEO and general manager Dave Dombrowski said. "Our top offseason priority was to add a proven bat in the middle of our lineup and Victor is an established .300 hitter and run producer at the Major League level."
Martinez, a Type A free agent, will cost the Tigers a 2011 first-round Draft pick as compensation to the Red Sox, who offered the catcher three years at $36 million and then four years at $42 million. The Tigers have the No. 19 overall pick in the first round of next year's Draft. If the Tigers go on to sign a higher-ranked Type A free agent, then Martinez would cost them a second-round pick.A switch-hitter, Martinez is expected to give the Tigers middle-of-the-order protection from both sides of the plate and the flexibility to catch, play first base and serve as a designated hitter. "We expect Victor to be in our lineup on a daily basis, serving primarily as our club's designated hitter and catching two to three times a week," Dombrowski said. "He also has the ability to fill in at first base and his versatility allows us to keep a premier bat in our lineup every day. We've discussed this role with Victor and both sides are very pleased with what he brings to the Tigers organization."
Martinez, who turns 32 next month, is a career .300 hitter with an .838 OPS over nine Major League seasons. The four-time All-Star came up with the Indians in 2002 and established himself as one of the premier offensive catchers in the league before being dealt to the Red Sox at the Trade Deadline in 2009.In 2010, Martinez batted .302 with 20 homers, 32 doubles, 79 RBIs and an .844 OPS. His declining defensive skills behind the plate were a cause for concern, but Alex Avila's presence would allow the Tigers to employ Martinez's bat elsewhere on occasion or perhaps even regularly. Martinez is a sound defensive option at first base, and he and Miguel Cabrera could wind up trading time at that position and at DH. Martinez is also noted to be a great teammate and team leader. Martinez, though, has not been an exceptional hitter at Comerica Park. He has hit just .225 (38-for-169) with four homers, a .310 on-base percentage and a .349 slugging percentage in 47 games at the spacious ballpark. That makes for his lowest OPS (.671) at any park where he's logged at least 20 games played. Splits aside, Martinez's presence could ease the burden on Cabrera, who lost valuable protection in the lineup when Ordonez suffered an ankle injury in July. The Tigers did not offer arbitration to Ordonez, a free agent, on Tuesday, but it's still possible that they could bring him back and give manager Jim Leyland a profound Venezuelan trio in the heart of the order. It has been an aggressive offseason for the Tigers. The team has already come to terms on multiyear deals with third baseman Brandon Inge, shortstop Jhonny Peralta and reliever Joaquin Benoit.