Victor Martinez Rumors

AL East Notes: Martinez, Crawford, Sanchez

Daisuke Matsuzaka had his best outing of the spring against the Tigers today, allowing two hits and a walk in five scoreless innings, striking out five. Here's the latest on the AL East, as the Red Sox and their fans gain a little confidence in the back of their rotation…

  • Victor Martinez, who was playing against his former team this afternoon, told the Boston Herald that he "loved" Boston and has no hard feelings toward the Red Sox. V-Mart added that he thinks the Red Sox are offseason winners because they improved their pitching and offense.
  • Alex Speier of WEEI.com wonders what might have happened if the Red Sox had re-signed Martinez. A team source tells Speier that the Red Sox thought there was a chance the backstop would return. But as we heard earlier in the offseason, the Red Sox had doubts about Martinez's ability to catch long-term.
  • If Martinez had returned, Speier hears that the Red Sox would have had the resources to pursue either Carl Crawford or Adrian Gonzalez, but not both.
  • Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports hears that Yankees right-hander Romulo Sanchez has been impressing scouts (Twitter link). The out-of-options 26-year-old could fit on a team looking for relief help, according to Rosenthal.

Two Carl Crawford Deals That Could Have Been

Boston offered Victor Martinez to Tampa Bay for Carl Crawford before the 2010 season, according to Tom Verducci of SI.com. Though the Rays were open to the deal, they told the Red Sox they’d have to pursue other trades to make the swap work. Tampa Bay’s secondary moves fell through, so Crawford and Martinez stayed put.

The Red Sox weren't the only AL East team with interest in Crawford, but they showed considerably more interest than the Yankees. Crawford told Rob Bradford of WEEI.com that he doesn't think the Yankees were seriously interested in his services last winter when he hit free agency. “If the Yankees want somebody they go out and get them, don’t they?,” Crawford asked. Cliff Lee notwithstanding, he has a point.


Cafardo On Gonzalez, V-Mart, Rangers, Nishioka

Let's take a look at the latest from Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe….

  • Cafardo suggests the money the Red Sox could have spent on Victor Martinez may be used to make a bigger splash. He speculates that splash could involve trading for Adrian Gonzalez and signing him to an extension, but ESPN.com's Buster Olney (Insider-only link) still expects the Padres to begin the 2011 season with Gonzalez on their roster.
  • One National League GM on Boston deciding not to match the Tigers' offer for Martinez: "He really rakes lefthanded pitching. That was the strange thing about the Red Sox for me — that in a division where there are so many good lefthanded pitchers, Martinez hit them at a .400 clip [in 2010]. Big, big loss for the Red Sox."
  • One option the Rangers are discussing internally, in the event they can't sign Cliff Lee, is moving Neftali Feliz to the rotation and signing a closer such as Rafael Soriano.
  • Olney reported earlier this week that rival executives view the Rangers as the team with the best shot at acquiring Zack Greinke. Cafardo hears the same thing, noting that Engel Beltre is "often mentioned as trade bait."
  • As we heard when the Twins won the bidding for Tsuyoshi Nishioka, the Red Sox were also involved. According to Cafardo, Boston's bid was about $2.3MM, and their interest in the Japanese shortstop was "marginal." With Jed Lowrie and Jose Iglesias already in the organization, Nishioka didn't make a ton of sense for the club.
  • Cafardo expects the Padres, Red Sox, or Indians to hire Josh Byrnes in the near future.


Odds & Ends: Tigers, Orioles, Manny, Astros, Uribe

Happy birthday to two former All-Star catchers!  Future Hall-of-Famer Ivan Rodriguez turns 39 today, while Angels manager Mike Scioscia turns 52.

Some news items…


Cabrera Helped Tigers Sign Victor Martinez

Miguel Cabrera knew the Tigers had some financial flexibility this winter, so he told GM Dave Dombrowski he’d be happy to help the team recruit free agents. Dombrowski took his first baseman up on the offer and told him to call up Victor Martinez. Just three weeks into the offseason, Cabrera and the Tigers accomplished their goal, luring Martinez to Detroit with some persuasive words and a four-year, $50MM contract.

Martinez drew strong interest from "at least six teams," agent Scott Pucino said on a conference call with reporters. Martinez says Cabrera’s recruiting was "a good part" of his decision to sign in Detroit, but it wasn't the primary reason he turned down other offers.

"Bottom line, I just want to win," Martinez said. "I came here because I want to win. Anything that I can do to make this team better [and] win, man. I want to do it. I’m just really excited and I just want to win bad."

Martinez made it clear that he'll play any position the Tigers ask him to. Dombrowski says the 31-year-old will be the team's regular DH, catch two or three times a week and back up at first base. Alex Avila will remain the team's primary catcher; Dombrowski expects the precise breakdown to take care of itself.

The Tigers lose their 2011 first rounder for signing Martinez, a Type A free agent. Dombrowski said the Tigers were willing to surrender their top pick for Martinez because it's difficult to acquire All-Star caliber major leaguers.

"For example if we had a straight trade for him, would I be willing to give up a number one type of talent in return for him? The question would depend upon who you’re talking about in any case, but the generality of it would be yes,” Dombrowski said.

The Tigers, who surrendered their first round draft pick last year after they signed Type A free agent Jose Valverde, say they can overcome the lost picks by signing top international free agents and drafting aggressively.

“Last year we supplemented it by drafting somebody in the sandwich pick, Nick Castellanos, that we thought was a legitimate high number one pick, so we were able to fill that role,” Dombrowski said.  

The Tigers have not shied away from talented, but expensive amateur players in recent years and they have Rick Porcello, Jacob Turner and, more recently, Castellanos to show for it.

This offseason the Tigers have been exceptionally aggressive on the free agent market, signing Brandon Inge, Jhonny Peralta and Joaquin Benoit. They're settled in the infield, behind the plate and at DH and they like outfielders Austin Jackson and Ryan Raburn, but they aren't necessarily done their offseason shopping yet. Dombrowski acknowledged that the team may add another outfielder.


Reaction To The Victor Martinez Signing

Victor Martinez's four-year, $50MM contract with the Tigers was finalized today.  Now that the offseason's first major free agent has left the market, there is no shortage of commentary about how this move impacts Martinez's former club in Boston.  A sampling…

  • "The Tigers are paying Martinez with the expectation that he’ll be able to replicate the career of [Jorge] Posada," writes The Providence Journal's Brian MacPherson, while the Red Sox saw Martinez as another Mike Lieberthal.
  • CSNNE.com's Sean McAdam points out that if Boston had to lose Martinez, Detroit was the best possible team to lose him to since the Tigers have the highest unprotected pick (19th overall) in the 2011 amateur draft.  WEEI.com's Alex Speier, however, points out that Boston's compensatory pick will fall into the second round if the Tigers sign a higher-ranked free agent than Martinez — namely, Carl Crawford or Jayson Werth.
  • In a separate story from Speier, multiple Red Sox sources say they doubt Martinez will remain a viable catcher for more than two seasons. As Speier points out, handing lots of responsibility to Jarrod Saltalamacchia is risky, but signing Martinez long-term would have been risky, too.  Speier says "the decision bore striking parallels" to when Johnny Damon signed with New York after the 2005 season.
  • Writing for WEEI.com, former Boston utilityman Lou Merloni thinks the Red Sox made a mistake by not re-signing Martinez.
  • Tony Massarotti of the Boston Globe thinks Theo Epstein may be putting too much emphasis on stockpiling draft picks.

MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith contributed to this post


Tigers Sign Victor Martinez

The Tigers officially added a middle of the order bat, signing catcher Victor Martinez to a four-year, $50MM contract.  Martinez was widely regarded as the best offensive catcher available, though he may see significant time as Detroit's designated hitter. He'll earn $12MM in 2011, $13MM in 2012-13 and $12MM in 2014.

Martinez, 32 next month, hit .302/.351/.493 in 538 plate appearances for the Red Sox this year, earning his fourth All-Star nod.  As a switch-hitter, Martinez provides the left side protection the Tigers craved.  He also logged 904 innings behind the plate, a number that should decrease in Detroit due to the presence of Alex Avila.

Though the Red Sox hoped to re-sign Martinez, reportedly offering him a choice of three years and $36MM or four years and $42MM.  They can take solace in receiving the best available draft pick as part of their compensation.  The Tigers must surrender their #19 draft pick next year to the Red Sox, unless Detroit also signs Jayson Werth later.  In that case the Red Sox would get the Tigers' second-round pick.  Regardless, the Red Sox will also receive a supplemental draft pick. 

According to Ignacio Serrano of El Nacional, who broke the story, Martinez turned down a four-year, $48MM offer from the Orioles and a three-year, $48MM contract from the White Sox. MLBTR has learned that the White Sox in fact offered $48MM over four years. Martinez is represented by Octagon.

The Tigers have been baseball's most aggressive team this offseason.  Prior to the Martinez agreement, they committed $39.25MM to Brandon Inge, Jhonny Peralta, and Joaquin BenoitIn a November 10th poll, three of five MLBTR writers correctly predicted Martinez would sign with the Tigers.

Serrano broke the story, Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com reported that an agreement was in place and Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes reported on Twitter that the deal was official and added contract details.


American League Free Agent Arbitration Offers

10 American League teams have free agent arbitration offer decisions to make, and we'll group them in this post.  For a fantastic customizable chart with all 65 Type A/B free agents and their decisions in real-time, click here.


Orioles Notes: Martinez, Randolph, Nishioka

The Orioles declined to offer arbitration to Kevin Millwood or Koji Uehara tonight. Here are the other hot stove-related items about the O's:

  • President of baseball operations Andy MacPhail tells Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun that he's "disappointed" to have missed out on Victor Martinez. The Orioles made Martinez a four-year $48MM offer at the general manager meetings in Orlando last week and were not given the chance to raise their offer, according to Zrebiec. MacPhail says the O's are now "looking at other options."
  • The Orioles agreed to sign former Mets manager Willie Randolph to be Buck Showalter's bench coach, according to Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun.
  • The Orioles did not bid on Japanese infielder Tsuyoshi Nishioka, according to Connolly (on Twitter).

Red Sox Rumors: V-Mart, Varitek, Crawford

The latest on the Red Sox, including details on the team's final offers to the Tigers' newest free agent signing:

  • The Red Sox offered Victor Martinez a three-year, $36MM deal and a four-year $42MM deal before he signed in Detroit, according to MLB.com's Ian Browne.
  • As Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald points out, the Red Sox could bring Jason Varitek back in 2011, even though they declined to offer him arbitration. Click here for all the updates on which ranked free agents were offered arbitration.
  • Wondering how the Red Sox have handled ranked free agents under Theo Epstein? Alex Speier of WEEI.com has all the details.
  • Red Sox manager Terry Francona told the Dale & Holley Show on WEEI that he's confident the team will be strong by Spring Training, even though Epstein and the rest of the front office have some needs to address now.
  • Francona called Carl Crawford a "game changer," not unlike Johnny Damon.
  • The skipper also suggested that reports about Marco Scutaro's availability don't mean "anything."
  • Francona was careful not to say much about Justin Upton, but he did repeat that the Red Sox value their own young players highly.