Free Agent Stock Watch: Victor Martinez

Quality catching is extremely hard to come by these days, and Victor Martinez is the best backstop available on the free agent market by a wide margin. Let's review his stock…

The Good

  • Martinez is as consistent with the bat as they come. He's posted an OPS between .844 and .879 in six of the last seven years. 
  • A true switch hitter, Martinez is a .301/.379/.482 hitter from the right side and .298/.363/.462 from the left, so the drop-off is minimal.
  • Despite the rigors of catching regularly, V-Mart has only been on the disabled list twice in the last seven years. He had surgery to remove bone chips in his right elbow in 2008, and fractured his thumb on a foul tip this year.
  • He's also versatile, capable of both catching and playing first base. DH is always an option as well.

The Bad

  • Martinez's defense behind the plate leaves plenty to be desired. He's thrown out just 24% of attempted base stealers in his career, and over the last two seasons that mark is just 18.8%. 
  • At 31 years old (32 next month), his days behind the plate are probably numbered.
  • Martinez is a Type-A free agent and will certainly be offered arbitration, so it'll cost a high draft pick to sign him.

The Verdict

Martinez rejected Boston's two-year contract extension offer over the summer, so he's clearly looking to land a big payday while he can. Aside from the Red Sox, the Tigers, Orioles, and Rockies are all said to have interest in the switch hitting catcher, so competition will be steep. He's one of the few true impact bats in this free agent class and will be paid accordingly, though the smart money is on V-Mart ending a potential four-year contract as a full-time first baseman or DH.

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15 Comments on "Free Agent Stock Watch: Victor Martinez"

4 years 10 months ago

Mike- I think you mean Tigers, Orioles, and Rangers, don’t you?

It’s funny how a catcher’s defense is always judged only in terms of his SB percentage. The most important aspect of a catcher’s work behind the plate is how he “handles” or works with the pitchers. How he calls a game and how he gets the pitchers in a groove or a rhythm is critical to the success of the team. Unfortunately, that’s not something that statisticians can easily affix numbers to. It’s not quantifiable, so it doesn’t get measured, and doesn’t get considered when speaking of “defense”. By all reports, V Mart works pretty well and calls a good game.

As for his SB percentage, it’s not good. He’ll give up 100 SB’s in 100 games, which is probably about 50 more than what the Tigers are used to with Laird, Pudge, or Avila behind the plate. He’ll more than make up for that at the plate, though, and if he is DH’ing half the time, that cuts the deficit even further.

I am concerned about the cost- a first round pick plus probably a four year deal. He’s not worth $ 15 million a year, but 12 is more like it. I would not go five years, and I would not go past about 13 mil. I’d rather pony up the extra and go for Crawford. V Mart has one solid bat for either the 3 slot or the 5 slot, both of which are vital needs of the Tigers.

4 years 10 months ago

The Rangers are a team interested, but he did mean what he said. The Rockies, while a long shot, were reported to have interest a few days ago.

Personally, he seems perfect for the Orioles.

4 years 10 months ago

I completely agree with you he would be a perfect fit in Baltimore…I really like that idea just can’t see it happening if the Rangers are involved.

4 years 10 months ago

No he meant Rockies. V-mart could catch some, and play first some, giving Helton plenty of rest especially against left handed pitchers. V-Mart would be a great fit for the Rockies who’s main priority is for and impact bat, especially a right handed one.

the Rockies also have a little bit of salary budget room to play with. If they can’t re-sign Jorge De La Rosa (who I don’t think they have a prayer in signing) than they could spend that money on V-Mart

4 years 10 months ago

I can’t see a fit in Colorado nearly as much as I can in Texas. I would think that V Mart will cost more to sign than DLR, but I agree that the Rox are about to lose Jorge. It’s a great time for a decent starting pitcher to test the waters of free agency. You can count on one hand the number of quality starters that are on the market this winter, apart from the walking wounded.

4 years 10 months ago

and JDLR has only had one really good year.

V-mart would be a perfect fit as far as a need for the Rockies. (except for the potential price tag)

4 years 10 months ago

In DLR’s favor is the fact that his numbers are going in the right direction. A modest improvement in all the peripheral stats from one season to the next, with the exception of that 16 win season. I don’t think he can be sold as a 16 win pitcher, but with the extreme scarcity of starting pitchers on the market, and the total absence of lefty starters, DLR will probably be over compensated for the numbers that he’s putting up, and his past health issue will just be a risk that his new club has to eat.

But if the Rox can’t afford DLR, then they sure as hell can’t afford V Mart. If Boston bows out without going four years, I’m not so sure that anyone else goes five for him. I think that’s too much.

4 years 10 months ago

The Rockies can afford one this year from everything I’m reading. They don’t tend to make too big of mistakes on contracts, playing it safe for the most part.

Both V-Mart and JDLR will get stupid contracts. I think JDLR’s will be far higher than his actual ability or track record would justify, which is why the Rockies won’t go there, not because of the actual $$’s.

V-Mart actually has a far better/consistent track record, and at 31, he’s not too old. He can split catcher until Wilen Rosario is ready in a year or two, and could replace Helton at first in a couple of years when Helton retires. He’s actually a better risk and fit for the Rockies.

4 years 10 months ago

it will be interesting to see what kind of contract VMART ends up with. As a red sox fan, I would love to see him back in Boston. Doubt that will happen though

4 years 10 months ago

I think John Buck will be behind the plate next season. Though I to would love to have Vmart back, I think some team(Tigers, O’s, Rangers, Rockies) are gonna pay him big time for 5 years and Theo will offer a “take it or leave it” 4 yr offer.

4 years 10 months ago

Agree here. 5 years, no chance and seriously doubt 4 years from Boston. Sox are better off with a patch for a season for 2 and waiting on one of the prospects to emerge, even seeing if Salty can do something than a 60M gamble on VMart, as decent a catcher as he was with the staff. Picture a Posada/Varitek type without the instincts and you have Vmart, only hits better.. Just not worth it and his glove at 1b leaves a LOT to be desired.

4 years 10 months ago

I hope he ends up in Boston so Granderson and Gardner run wild on him

4 years 10 months ago

I’d like to see the Mets persue him during the offseason. He’s the only offensive FA player they should get IMO this offseason. I wonder if he would take a 3-year deal with a mutual or team option for a 4th year. He’s the perfect choice as a #5 hitter in the order and would give Wright more protection. They tried that with Bay last year and to me, Bay is too streaky for the task. I am a bit weary about his defense unless they bring back Blanco for one more year to back up Victor to be the defensive catcher. SS Reyes (S)2B Murphy (L) (doing well so far in winter ball & wouldn’t surprise me if he gets the job due to the weak 2nd base FA market)CF Beltran (S)RF Duda (L) (Future 25-30 HR power threat that could make his presence felt in ’11)C V-Mart (S)3B Wright (R)1B Davis (L)LF Bay (R)Pretty consistent lineup up and down, especially if Beltran’s knee is 100%.

4 years 10 months ago

Is Duda some kind of nickname for Angel Pagan? Otherwise, I am unfamiliar with him, and I thought Pagan would bat second and play RF/ and occasionally center based on Beltran’s health. Also, is this a list of the position players or a batting lineup, because if this is the batting order I would disagree.
SS Reyes
RF Pagan
CF Beltran
3B Wright
C Martinez
LF Bay
1B Davis
2B Murphy

Also, I think a V-Mart signing by the Mets may be too expensive, and maybe signing Orlando Hudson to play second would be a more realistic use of money, along with the need for pitching. Is Duda that outfield prospect Martinez who keeps getting hurt?

4 years 10 months ago

I take it the Josh Thole honeymoon is over?