Victor Martinez Heads Into Contract Year

The Boston Globe's Tony Massarotti breaks down Victor Martinez's impending free agency, comparing the catcher's walk year situation with Jason Bay's 2009.  The Red Sox haven't had serious extension discussions with Martinez yet, though such talks are often reserved for Spring Training.

Massarotti uses David Ortiz ($13MM), Jorge Posada ($13MM) and Joe Mauer (a projected $20MM) to set the boundaries for Martinez's next salary.  However, Ortiz's extension was signed four years ago, Posada's over two years ago.  And Mauer might deserve unique superstar consideration.

Martinez's biggest wart is his 2008 season, lost to an elbow injury.  The other concern is his ability to serve as a full-time catcher – he hasn't caught a full season since '07.  If Martinez's projected .294/.366/.450 performance comes as a first baseman/DH, he's suddenly in line for a Hideki Matsui or Adam LaRoche-type contract – one year, $6MM.  Since Martinez will catch full-time in 2010, it'll allow the Red Sox to gauge where he belongs in the following seasons.


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51 Comments on "Victor Martinez Heads Into Contract Year"


Guest
5 years 6 months ago

The Red Sox should try to lock him up but I expect Beckett is the first priority. The Mets should try to get V-Mart.

bjsguess
5 years 6 months ago

The Red Sox should NOT try to lock him up until they get a chance to evaluate his long term ability to catch. His value is easily halved if he can’t catch.

ReverendBlack
5 years 6 months ago

^This is all there is to it. Want 1B money? We’ll sign you now. Want catcher money? Call us when you can play catcher.

TwinsVet
5 years 6 months ago

Any BoSox experts care to fill us in on your organizational depth chart? My understanding is you don’t have any internal solutions for catcher in the next several years – is this correct?

wolf9309
5 years 6 months ago

Really no one immediately ready, but some promising prospects in a couple of years. Kind of depends not only on how well Vmart holds up, but how short of a deal he’s willing to take. May not make sense to keep him for more than 3 or so years, though he may want more than that. Really all depends on how he holds up this season, so I’d be shocked to see them sign him to an extension until the season is over- chances are taht if he holds up, they’ll be willing to pay FA value for him.

ReverendBlack
5 years 6 months ago

Martinez included, correct.

TwinsVet
5 years 6 months ago

In that case, I think it puts a premium on vic if he holds up this year.

ReverendBlack
5 years 6 months ago

Disagree. There are too many other ways to replace his production less expensively, even presuming a hole at catcher.

TwinsVet
5 years 6 months ago

But are there other ways to replace his production *at the catcher position*? Assuming Mauer extends, I’m not seeing a whole lot of talent available out there behind the plate.

Of course, trades remain a viable option.

And as you elude to, it wouldn’t be the worst thing if they just went with a Laird-style catcher, and made up for the offense elsewhere.

ReverendBlack
5 years 6 months ago

I wouldn’t want Mauer for the price tag he’ll come with anyway.

There are other ways to replace his production. The Red Sox are already accustomed to having and winning despite an offensive hole at catcher.

ElWaldorf
5 years 6 months ago

it’ll def help him thats for sure, but there are already been talks hes bound to play first base full time because hes so so behind the plate. I think they’ll end up getting something done with them half way through the year or next off season. Beckett is 1st priority tho.

empathizerightonyourbehind
5 years 6 months ago

if we all keep pretending jason kendall is a catcher and that paul lo duca could plausibly still play behind the plate, i’m not sure why we wouldn’t be able to grant the same courtesy to victor martinez.

my prediction: boston doesn’t think he can still catch after 2010, he thinks he can, so he signs with whatever team has money coming off the books and needs a catcher. how about san francisco? they love paying for 5-years-ago stats.

Deanezag
5 years 6 months ago

So since he’s not the worst catcher in the bigs that means he can still be a catcher? I usually dont point to a player the Royals signed or a guy who signed a minor league contract to help make my argument.

your prediction is right though, some team will overpay him, and he will sign with them. SF has Buster Posey waiting to come up so Vmart isnt a fit in SF long term.

empathizerightonyourbehind
5 years 6 months ago

and i usually don’t call a 2-year/$6 million contract “minor league,” but i guess that’s just the difference between you and me. 😉

who goes for it…wait… the mets…of course.

Deanezag
5 years 6 months ago

you mentioned jason kendall and paul lo duca.

see how in my statement i mentioned a player the royals signed and a guy who signed a minor league contract?
kendall = player the royals signed
lo duca = minor league contract with rockies

empathizerightonyourbehind
5 years 6 months ago

ok, sorry, i misread it to be “a guy the royals signed to a minor league deal.” you win. but the yankees are still a terrible organization.

Deanezag
5 years 6 months ago

Ok

elclashcombo
5 years 6 months ago

“My understanding is you don’t have any internal solutions for catcher in the next several years – is this correct?”

I think most teams are like this, however, next several years is correct. Im just glad we dont have to deal with the Tim-Wakefield-personal-catcher-who-hits-below-the-Mendoza-Line-and-takes-up-a-roster-spot- issue anymore.

Deanezag
5 years 6 months ago

Varitek? lol kidding

elclashcombo
5 years 6 months ago

seriously…as soon as i typed that i thought, “oh yeah, another year of varitek”.

$1742854
5 years 6 months ago

Being a Twins fan and watching Martinez for basically his whole career, this guy is a hitting machine. He could be the best hitting catcher in the game, too bad there’s a guy named Mauer playing too. The big question will be how much he catches. He split time last year and hasn’t been a “Full time” catcher since pre-elbow injury.

redsox4120
5 years 6 months ago

I think they should lock V-Mart up for either 1B, C, or DH.

empathizerightonyourbehind
5 years 6 months ago

well, that’s certainly well thought out.

TimotheusATL
5 years 6 months ago

It’s probably important to realize that V-Mart is done with the 5yr/$15.5MM part of the contract — his 2010 option was exercised at $7.7MM. He’s also going to be 33 when the 2011 season starts.

I don’t see Papi as a comparable since he’s a 100% one-dimensional player with a pre-recession contract, and Posada’s contract probably contains a bit of Yankee-style loyalty money (y’know, like the kind Damon SHOULD have taken).

If he catches most of the year and continues to knock the cover off the ball, would something in the range of 3/45 to 3/50 + a club/mutual option get it done, assuming Mauer does indeed sign @ 20mil/year?

ReverendBlack
5 years 6 months ago

That doesn’t sound too implausible. I wouldn’t do it, though. Going forward, he is a switch-hitting first baseman in his mid-thirties who hits for average. 15m AAV? No thanks.

andrewyf
5 years 6 months ago

Boston better be prepared to pay through the nose to keep Victor around, or pay through the nose to trade for a decent catcher (since every team in the majors knows Boston has precisely zero catchers who are even close to major league ready), or go with a black hole at the catching position for the next several years.

Just last year Theo was offered Miguel Montero for Michael Bowden, and he turned it down. Bad decision.

start_wearing_purple
start_wearing_purple
5 years 6 months ago

No. It was Theo offered Bowden for Montero. Byrnes countered with Bard or Buchholz.

andrewyf
5 years 6 months ago

Wrong. You can check it yourself, multiple sources reported that Theo turned down a Bowden/Montero swap. It was reported multiple times on MLBTR. Now, I understand that you would find it hard to believe that Arizona would settle for a AAAA starter like Bowden for a promising young catcher, but the only information we have is the information MLBTR accumulated.

link to mlbtraderumors.com

Arizona (rightly) didn’t even want Bard.

start_wearing_purple
start_wearing_purple
5 years 6 months ago

Alright, so I was mixing up the memories with the Salty talks.

andrewyf
5 years 6 months ago

You’re wrong.

link to mlbtraderumors.com

Arizona never even asked for Buchholz, and didn’t even want Bard.

Cyyoung
5 years 6 months ago

Luis Exposito, is probably the most promising. But I do think that Theo did not plan for the future in this position, and made more picks in the draft. Sox gave up some good arms for V-Mart, it would be ashame if they let him walk and lose those kids for 2 years of V-Mart. Guy is a good ballplayer.

gson
5 years 6 months ago

Having watched Vmart from being signed as a SHORTSTOP in Venezuela, this crapola about Vmart not being able to catch is preposterous.

VMart is an every day catcher.. PERIOD

Vmart has the ability to play first base, only because the Indians develop their players to be versatile. Some people think that’s a bad thing as it forces the player to focus on more than one spot.. others champion the versatility. VMart can play both spots, defensively, because he works hard.. loves to play.. and has no physical limitations that would preclude this pursuit.

Vmart ALWAYS hits.. hits in the clutch.. hits to drive in runs.. hits for power. If anything, he might be a bit better power wise from the left side..but he handles both LHP and RHP’s pretty well…

A contract discounted because of concern about being able to be a full time catcher will be the FASTEST way for the Red Sox to disrespect what Vmart has done and continues to do.. A 4 year, $ 40 MM deal should get it done..

Now is not the time for the Red Sox to go “cheap”…

empathizerightonyourbehind
5 years 6 months ago

whoa, victor, chill out.

a few quick points:

v-mart was signed from Venezuela in 1996. according to my calculations that was 14 years ago. that changes a few things.

v-mart doesn’t ALWAYS hit. last year he hit 30.3% of the time. which is still good, but just about 70% of the time homeboy wasn’t getting a hit.

possible faster ways to disrespect v-mart: designate him for assignment, release him, trade him to the mets

committing $40 million to a guy that old, in that position, on a team that already has 1 DH and 3 3rdbasemen seems a little silly. but you’re the expert.

wolf9309
5 years 6 months ago

come on now. He’s the catcher for 2010, either way. After 2010, the Sox have no DHs, one guy who can play either 1st or 3rd, and no one else in the corner infield or catching.

cookmeister
5 years 6 months ago

they have 3 first baseman? and i hope you are joking when you say that he didnt get a hit 70% of the time being bad..

TimotheusATL
5 years 6 months ago

“v-mart doesn’t ALWAYS hit. last year he hit 30.3% of the time. which is still good, but just about 70% of the time homeboy wasn’t getting a hit.”

You owe me a new monitor. And a new bottle of SmartWater(tm).

Boy, I hope that was sarcasm!

Deanezag
5 years 6 months ago

He was a SS 15 years ago when he was what 18? What does that have to do with him now?

ReverendBlack
5 years 6 months ago

Right out of the Scott Boras handbook.

wolf9309
5 years 6 months ago

I think the Sox would absolutely jump if he’d take a 4 year $40 million deal. Even if he only catches full time for a couple of those years and switches between C, 1B, and DH for a couple, that would be a great deal. I think that’s undervaluing him by quite a bit though if he IS capable of catching everyday.

BTW I agree, I’ve looked over his splits and numbers a decent bit and have seen no indication that his offense suffers significantly when he is catching every day.

ReverendBlack
5 years 6 months ago

“VMart is a lousy everyday catcher…PERIOD”

fyp

wolf9309
5 years 6 months ago

based on?…
regurgitated assumptions other people have made because he’s been playing 1st the last couple of years? or what?

ReverendBlack
5 years 6 months ago

Not sure if serious

wolf9309
5 years 6 months ago

yeah, completely serious, based on what?

If it’s defensively I won’t argue with you because I don’t know of a good metric to judge how good a catcher is defensively, only how much pitchers like throwing to them. Offensively, he’s one of the best in the game and has showed no sign of offensive statistics declining at the end of the year after catching all year. I’m just curious what you would say he is a lousy catcher based on.

ReverendBlack
5 years 6 months ago

The point is that he’s an increasingly inadequate catcher and so it’s only a matter of time before he’s permanently moved to first base. At first base, his production is far less valuable. Signing him to a multi-year deal for his production at catcher when he will inevitably be a first baseman would in most cases be foolish.

The weaknesses of the metrics notwithstanding, virtually of his defensive stats are below league. His defense was notably poor (consensus among scouts) until 2007, after which he did not again catch a full year.

He threw out 13% of baserunners last year. 13%.

In six years as a fulltime catcher, that percentage has been lower than league average four times.

In 2006, he allowed 100 stolen bases.

And again, he hasn’t caught a full season since 2007 — his best year — and last year gave up 56 stolen bases in just 82 games.

If he hadn’t hit as he has, he’d never be allowed behind the plate. And barring a total turnaround, he won’t be left there for long.

wolf9309
5 years 6 months ago

well it depends on the multiyear deal. Certainly it would be ridiculous to sign him 4 years at the $13 million+ that Massarotti is suggesting without seeing how he does over the year, no question there. If he will sign at a discount, however, even when he isn’t catching everyday, he can provide value as a backup catcher/DH (I don’t much like him at 1b except as a backup 1b, I don’t like his defense there) and still retain his bat in the lineup everyday.
Considering he’s been around a 5 WAR player every year except the one lost to injury, I don’t mind overpaying him slightly for a couple of years if he keeps getting underpaid for a couple of years.

I was curious about the defense because most of the knocks I’ve seen against him have been arm strength and throwing ability. Now granted, he looked absolutely horrifying out there when trying to throw runners out, but really, I consider that about 5% of the catcher’s job. Stolen bases provide value, but I think highly overrated value. I haven’t seen any huge knocks on his ability to call a game or block the plate (and though he doesn’t seem exceptional at it, he seems just fine, better than a lot of catchers I see out there). I just don’t buy throwing runners out as a primary judgement of a catcher’s ability. I also think that his offense in the position more than makes up for any defensive deficiencies, especially on a ballclub that, apart from him, is so defensively focused.

ReverendBlack
5 years 6 months ago

“I haven’t seen any huge knocks on his ability to call a game or block the plate (and though he doesn’t seem exceptional at it, he seems just fine, better than a lot of catchers I see out there).”

Huge knocks, no. The huge knock is that David Ortiz could steal on him. The knocks against the rest of his game are just regular knocks. As I said, virtually every defensive metric has him below league average already. He’s a historically poor catcher, presently a poor catcher, but he’s going to be passable for the next several years? Doubt it.

“Stolen bases provide value, but I think highly overrated value.”

Err, overrated by whom? And of value TO whom? The Angels and Rays would like a word. And virtually every other team who wins a lot of close games, too. Converting even a quarter of your singles & walks in a game into doubles is huge over the long-term.

wolf9309
5 years 6 months ago

you can say “every defensive metric,” but what defensive metrics are you using apart from CS%? Is there any defensive metric that even half tries to measure a catching ability apart from that? Which isn’t completely bunk?

Stolen bases are overrated as a judgement of a catcher’s ability, like I said.

for the record, no team is converting anything like a quarter of their singles or walks to doubles. If they were, stealing would be the most valued asset in the game. The LAA, the playoff team of the two you mentioned, had 1652 singles + walks and 148 stolen bases- which is just under 9%. Even if Martinez allowed an average of a stolen base per game, which is an absurd number, his offense at the position more than makes up for it- especially on a team like the 2010 Red Sox who are tailored to keep more people off base.

Note I’m not saying they’re useless, just that stolen bases alone does not make a catcher bad. Apart from this he put up very impressive numbers against SB in 2007 and 2008, so it’s not like he doesn’t have the capability.

RedbirdRuffian
5 years 6 months ago

Mauer ain’t goin nowhere. Yanks have some catchers w/tons of potential at AA and AAA one of whom should start carrying Posada’s gear around this season. Red Sox have Martinez, a good hitter but average at best defensively. He is definately worth keeping but his future may be full time dh, part time catcher when certain pitchers are throwing (the ones that don’t pitch to contact) and against certain slow teams (you know who you are). Sox need a strong defensive catcher who can hold his own at the plate in the near future. If he’s not in the Sox system now, Theo will go out and find him elsewhere. Twins and Rangers have some good looking prospects in the high minors there are others I’m sure.

Hoosierdaddy92
5 years 6 months ago

red sox are bumming the lowell for max ramirez trade fell through.

Hoosierdaddy92
5 years 6 months ago

Detroit! With all that money coming off the books next year why not? They can sign him as a Catcher, but DH him some days and get Avila, their stud catcher of the future some chances behind the plate. Long term, they can DH him and spot start him at 1b with MCab DHing somedays. They need a power/solid average hitting bat to compliment MCab, and that’s what they’d get from him. Worst comes to worse and he doesn’t pan out as a catcher, they can use him as a DH and at 1b on days MCab rests.

al69
5 years 6 months ago

he’ll back up maur and dh ortiz wont be here he’s a great hitter period