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Victor Martinez Rumors
The 34-35 Tigers trail the AL Central-leading Indians by 2.5 games, but owner Mike Ilitch remains confident in the people running his team, Drew Sharp of the Detroit Free Press reports. “I know we’ve got the right foundation,” Ilitch said, “the right people in place.” Here are more notes on the Tigers from Sharp…
- Ilitch expects the Tigers to enjoy a boost in offense and leadership if Victor Martinez returns this season. “He was really our leader, and he’s starting to come around again,” Ilitch said.
- Sharp wonders if the Tigers would consider trading Rick Porcello for a veteran starter or a right-handed bat with power. GM Dave Dombrowski could make Porcello available now or in the offseason if Jacob Turner is ready for a full-time starting role in 2013. Porcello, 23, has a 4.95 ERA with 5.2 K/9 and 2.3 BB/9 in 80 innings this year and will remain under team control through 2014.
- Turner, Nick Castellanos and Avisail Garcia are as close to untouchable as minor league prospects get, Sharp writes.
It’s draft day, which means lots of coverage on MLBTR. I’ll be hosting a live chat throughout the evening, so come by and discuss the latest picks as they’re announced. MLBTR’s Steve Adams will be updating posts with each selection, so you’ll be able to see everything at a glance. Here are some non-draft links as we await the big event…
- The White Sox are expected to target veteran bullpen help if they're in a position to add to their roster in July, Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter).
- Knobler hears the Diamondbacks will call top pitching prospect Trevor Bauer up “soon” (Twitter link).
- The Red Sox called the Diamondbacks about Joe Saunders after Arizona acquired the left-hander in 2010, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports. One MLB executive can imagine a trade involving Saunders and Kevin Youkilis, though the person doubts the Diamondbacks would be interested in taking on considerable salary or parting with a significant prospect.
- The Mets will likely make three roster moves Tuesday, when Miguel Batista, Jason Bay and Chris Young are expected to return, Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com reports (on Twitter). The club will have to create 40-man roster space for Young.
- The Tigers should have a better idea of what, if anything, Victor Martinez can offer in 2012 by late July, Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports tweets.
Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski joined Jim Bowden and Casey Stern of MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM this afternoon. Here are a few highlights from Dombrowski's appearance…
- When asked about signing Alex Avila to a multiyear contract, Dombrowski hinted that the team will wait until the offseason before deciding about extensions for the Tigers' young stars. "We've got a lot of guys who are in that two-to-three year [of service time] group. You need to look at your whole group and see how things fit. You're probably talking about a lot of guys that warrant those type of long-term deals," Dombrowski said, citing Avila along with Brennan Boesch, Doug Fister, Austin Jackson, Rick Porcello and Max Scherzer. "For us right now we're in a situation where we're very comfortable to go throughout the year and we can address those situations as we approach the wintertime."
- The recently-retired Ivan Rodriguez holds "a special place in the hearts" of the Tigers front office. Rodriguez signed with the Tigers in the 2003-04 offseason, going from the World Series champion Marlins to a Detroit team coming off an AL-record 119 losses. Dombrowski credits the Rodriguez signing as the first move that helped return the club to respectability.
- From Bowden's Twitter account, Dombrowski said that Victor Martinez could possibly return to action in August or September based on his latest medicals. Martinez suffered a torn ACL in January that was expected to cost him the entire 2012 season, and also spurred the Tigers' acquisition of Prince Fielder.
Angels right-hander Michael Kohn will have Tommy John surgery tomorrow and will miss the season according to Mike DiGiovanna of The Los Angeles Times (on Twitter). Here are some assorted links for Wednesday…
- The Rangers recently met with Mike Moye, agent for Josh Hamilton, but the two sides didn't get too deep into contract extension talks according to Jeff Wilson of The Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
- The Twins hope to replace Scott Baker internally, but there's a chance he might not pitch for them again according to MLB.com's Rhett Bollinger (Twitter links). Baker will miss the year with elbow surgery and the team holds a $9MM option for next season.
- Talks between the Reds and Brandon Phillips about a contract extension started last March according to ESPN's Jim Bowden. Phillips' agreed to a new deal this week.
- The Tigers have some hope that Victor Martinez will return late this season, according to Tom Gage of the Detroit News (Twitter links). The switch-hitting DH didn't need ACL reconstruction on his injured knee, and may return before the season's up. The Tigers won't know whether Martinez can play until they get MRI results in July.
- Tom Krasovic of Inside the Padres reports that Padres owner John Moores initially sought $600MM for the team in 2008 and explains why it may sell for more this time around. The Padres are up for sale again, Moores announced yesterday.
- Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram has the year-by-year breakdown for Ian Kinsler’s recent contract extension (Twitter link). The Rangers have a $10MM option for 2018 with a $5MM buyout.
- Jim Callis of Baseball America reports that most teams believe Georgia high school outfielder Byron Buxton is the best prospect available in this year's amateur draft. There's a growing sense the Astros don't want to make a risky pick, yet there's no obvious second choice behind Buxton.
Mike Axisa contributed to this post.
As ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark points out, the NL Central will look considerably different in 2012, now that Prince Fielder, Albert Pujols and Tony La Russa have moved on. Ryan Braun could miss 50 games with a suspension that would make the division even less recognizable. Here are Stark’s latest notes and rumors:
- Scouts and executives doubt Miguel Cabrera will be able to play third base with much skill in 2012.
- One AL executive suggests the Tigers would have to eat a lot of money to trade Victor Martinez next offseason. Insurance will likely cover approximately half of the switch hitter’s 2012 salary of $13MM, Stark writes.
- Stark hears that the Phillies have sent signals that they might make Joe Blanton available this spring.
- Jason Bartlett has been available this winter and the Red Sox could pursue him, Stark writes. However, the shortstop will earn $5.5MM in 2012 and the Red Sox aim to stay below the luxury tax threshold.
- Scott Kazmir intends to pitch in 2012, but his fastball velocity is in the 84-85 mph range. The 28-year-old appeared in one game for the Angels last year and they released him after a rough stretch at Triple-A.
- There’s every indication that the commissioner’s office will discipline Juan Carlos Oviedo/Leo Nunez and Roberto (Heredia) Hernandez/Fausto Carmona for using false identities.
- Though many have told Bud Selig that adding a second Wild Card team to each league this year will create scheduling issues, the commissioner seems intent on expanding the playoffs in 2012, and Stark expects him to get his wish.
January 30th: Martinez had "microfracture surgery and repairs to both the medial and lateral meniscus in his left knee on Friday," announced the Tigers. The Tigers expect him to have ACL reconstruction surgery in about six-to-eight weeks, which will sideline him for all of 2012. After losing Martinez, the Tigers moved quickly to sign Prince Fielder to a nine-year deal.
January 17th: Catcher/designated hitter Victor Martinez suffered a torn ACL in his left knee during his off-season conditioning last week, according to the Tigers. Surgery is anticipated, which the Tigers say would cost Martinez the 2012 season.
The Tigers are holding a conference call in about a half hour, at which point we should hear about their plans to replace Martinez after the unfortunate injury.
Representatives for free agent hitters have started calling the Tigers, who will probably play the 2012 season without one of their top offensive players. But general manager Dave Dombrowski is still digesting the news that Victor Martinez is likely out for the season with a torn ACL, and he doesn't feel the need to rush the team's next move. The GM points to the 2011 Cardinals, who lost Adam Wainwright in Spring Training but won the World Series.
"You need to be resilient," Dombrowski said on a conference call with reporters. "After you feel sorry for yourself for a day you move on, you look at all your alternatives."
If the Tigers add a bat, it would most likely be a short-term addition, Dombrowski said. The club could maneuver from within, but that would mean using Jhonny Peralta, Alex Avila or an outfielder at DH on occasion — not shifting Miguel Cabrera to third base and pursuing a first baseman. Dombrowski declined to comment on specific players, but Johnny Damon, Manny Ramirez and Vladimir Guerrero are among the available free agent designated hitters.
As for Martinez, he injured his left knee late last week while doing a side to side shuffling exercise. The Tigers expect him to recover fully if he undergoes surgery, as expected. The possibility exists that he could return late in the 2012 season, but that would be a bonus, rather than anything Dombrowski and manager Jim Leyland will count on.
Martinez signed a four-year, $50MM contract with the Tigers last offseason and posted a .330/.380/.470 line in his first season in Detroit. Though Martinez appeared in 26 games at catcher last year, the Tigers hadn't planned to rely on him behind the plate in 2012.
On this date in 1979, the Pirates beat the Orioles 4-1 to win the World Series in seven games. Willie Stargell, the '79 NL MVP, hit a two-run home run in the victory. Here are links for Monday night as we await the beginning of this year's World Series…
- Jim Callis of Baseball America envisions Matt Barnes and Anthony Ranaudo in Boston's 2015 rotation.
- Callis also explains that the Dodgers weren't sure what they had when they drafted right-hander Edwin Jackson in 2001. He was athletic enough to pitch or play in the outfield.
- Bob Simpson, a co-chairman of the Rangers' board, told reporters, including Richard Durrett of ESPNDallas.com, that the Rangers are committed to sustaining their current level of play.
- Victor Martinez told Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports that he's prepared to catch in 2012. The switch-hitter didn't catch at all after August 4th because of a knee sprain, but he's willing to don the tools of ignorance again. Martinez's health will affect Detroit's level of interest in backup catchers this offseason.
- Joel Sherman of the New York Post suggests it will be hard to get the Yankees to offer C.C. Sabathia much more than Cliff Lee obtained from the Phillies ($120MM over five years). Sabathia is expected to opt out of the four years and $92MM remaining on his contract this offseason and though he enjoys playing in New York, it doesn't seem like he's going to give the Yankees a hometown discount.
- The Yankees favor Yu Darvish over C.J. Wilson of the Rangers, according to Sherman.
- ESPN.com's Buster Olney hears that Yankees scouting director Damon Oppenheimer is highly regarded by the Angels. The Orioles hold D'Backs exec Jerry Dipoto in similarly high esteem, according to Olney (on Twitter).
A few stray items of note on this Thursday evening …
- MVP voters who omit pitchers from their ballots should be recused from voting, opines Tracy Ringolsby of FOXSports.com. Voting rules stipulate that all players, including pitchers and DHs, be considered for the MVP, so Justin Verlander and Roy Halladay are legitimate candidates, explains Ringolsby.
- The Tigers' signing of Victor Martinez to a four-year contract is proving to be one of the better moves of the offseason, opines Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com.
- Nationals righty Chien-Ming Wang has been durable upon returning to the big leagues after missing two-plus years to injury, but he has trouble warming up his surgically repaired right shoulder before starts, according to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. Because of this, Wang, a free agent at season's end, has been struggling early in his starts before settling in.
- Each of the eight likely playoff teams boasts a strong relief tandem, writes Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com. Half of them were formed in the past year: Last offseason, the Diamondbacks traded for David Hernandez and signed J.J. Putz, and the Tigers signed Joaquin Benoit. In July, the Brewers traded for Francisco Rodriguez and the Rangers acquired Mike Adams.
A couple notes regarding the Red Sox and Indians, who both won on Saturday night (in Boston's case, twice) …
- The Red Sox wanted to trade for both Erik Bedard and Rich Harden once their attempt to acquire Hiroki Kuroda from the Dodgers fell through, tweets Peter Gammons. Bedard, of course, ended up in Boston, while the acquisition of Harden was nixed by Red Sox medical staff.
- It's unclear whether the Indians were the team that placed a waiver claim on the Rays' B.J. Upton, writes Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer, but it'd make sense for the Tribe to do so. Outfielders Michael Brantley and Shin-Soo Choo are banged up, and the Indians were one of the teams interested in Upton prior to the non-waiver trade deadline, according to Hoynes.
- Lost in the shuffle of Jim Thome's first homer since rejoining the Indians was the Major League debut of reliever Nick Hagadone, writes Hoynes. Hagadone, a lefty, was acquired along with Justin Masterson in the deal that sent Victor Martinez to Boston in 2009. That doesn't look like such a bad swap in retrospect, especially if Hagadone turns out to be a solid member of the Tribe's bullpen.