Victor Martinez Rumors

Tigers Close To Deal With Victor Martinez

The Tigers are close to a deal with catcher Victor Martinez on a four-year, $50MM contract, reports Ignacio Serrano of El Nacional (link in Spanish).  Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports confirm the report, saying a final decision is expected Friday or Saturday.  Serrano says Martinez accepted the Tigers' offer, and there will be a deal barring an unforeseen event.

According to Serrano, Martinez turned down a four-year, $48MM offer from the Orioles and a three-year, $48MM offer from the White Sox.  That White Sox offer would have been tough to reject, so we'll see if someone confirms it.

Though the Red Sox hoped to re-sign Martinez, 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.

Martinez fulfills the Tigers' need for a middle of the order bat, and as a switch-hitter he can provide protection from the left side.  If the Tigers stick with their plan of using Alex Avila often at catcher, Martinez could see most of his time as a designated hitter and backup first baseman.


Orioles Rumors: V-Mart, Garland, Duke, Manny

We know that the Orioles have varying levels of interest in Tsuyoshi Nishioka and Jorge de la Rosa, as well as J.J. Hardy and Jason Bartlett, but here's the latest from Charm City…


Baseball Blogs Weigh In: Uggla, Rollins, Giants, Upton

On this date 20 years ago, a 26-year-old Barry Bonds took home his first National League MVP Award thanks to a .301/.406/.565 season with the Pirates. He went on to win the award again in 1992, his final season in Pittsburgh, and then five more times with the Giants. The latter part of Bonds' career was clouded by PED allegations, but he did hit .301/.424/.566 in his final three seasons with the Pirates and .305/.438/.600 with far more unintentional walks (825) than strikeouts (685) from 1990-1998, age 26-34. Barry could have retired at that point and waltzed into the Hall of Fame on the first ballot.

Here's a look at the best the baseball blogosphere had to offer this week…

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Rockies Inquire On Justin Upton, Gavin Floyd

The Rockies have contacted the Diamondbacks and White Sox to inquire on Justin Upton and Gavin Floyd, respectively, according to Troy Renck of the Denver Post. Both teams are said to be listening to offers for their respective players.

We've rounded up the rest of today's Upton rumors here, with the latest from Jayson Stark indicating that Arizona seems "genuinely open" to moving their young outfielder. According to a team official that spoke to Renck, the D'Backs would be open to dealing Upton within the division, if the return was significant enough.

Meanwhile, we heard today that the White Sox would be willing to discuss trading Floyd, and Renck says the Sox have asked the Rockies about Ian Stewart. Colorado doesn't currently have a third baseman who could replace Stewart, but as Renck reported earlier, the club has interest in a handful of players who could handle the hot corner.

Despite their interest in potential trade candidates, the Rockies may still use free agency to fill their holes, as owner Dick Monfort admits: "We are really (reluctant) about giving up young players (in trades)." According to Renck, the Rockies also have interest in Scott Kazmir and "continue to monitor" the Victor Martinez situation.


Red Sox Will Go No More Than Four Years For Beltre

The Red Sox have said that retaining Adrian Beltre is one of their top priorities this offseason, but a source tells Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe that they will not offer him more than four years and $52MM. Cafardo adds that they appear to have a similar limit with Victor Martinez.

A dozen teams are reportedly interested in the 31-year-old Beltre, who is far and away the best third baseman on the free agent market. Interest in the soon-to-be 32-year-old Martinez is plentiful as well, with about half-a-dozen clubs expressing interest in his services at one point or another. While four years and $52MM is certainly a competitive offer, it's possible that Beltre could find more than $13MM annually on the open market, especially coming off a .321/.365/.553 season.


Latin Links: Beltre, Renteria, V-Mart, Balentien

Links from Spanish-language news sources, highlighted by a rumor-packed tweet from un hombre de Bristol (links in Spanish).

  • Enrique Rojas at ESPN Deportes says the A's are working hard to sign yet another third baseman. Only this time, it's Adrian Beltre, who reportedly turned down a three-year, $24MM offer from the team last winter.
  • In the same tweet, Rojas says the Dodgers are interested in Edgar Renteria and his willingness to play second base, notes that there is a "good market" for Miguel Tejada, and revives an old rumor with a question: "Vic-Mart with the Rays?"
  • According to Jorge Ebro at El Nuevo Herald, 17-year old Cuban centerfielder Yasiel Balaguer has defected to Nicaragua with hopes of signing with a Major League team. Ebro cites reports saying Balaguer's big draws are his explosive speed and throwing arm, though he has shown some offensive power as well in the Cuban National Series.
  • Former Mariner and Red Wladimir Balentien has told his usual Venezuelan Winter League team, the Leones de Caracas, that he can't play this winter because he has signed with a team in Japan, reports Cesar Augusto Marquez at Lider en Deportes. Marquez doesn't say which team Balentien has joined.

Odds & Ends: Shell, Kuroda, V-Mart, Okajima, Davies

Links for Monday evening…

  • Jon Paul Morosi of FoxSports.com tweets that the Royals have signed reliever Steven Shell to a minor league deal. Shell, 27, had a 3.59 ERA in 72.2 innings with the Mariners' Triple-A affiliate last season.
  • Troy Renck of The Denver Post lists the Cardinals, Phillies, and Rockies as some of the teams that were interested in Hiroki Kuroda before he re-signed with the Dodgers (Twitter link).  Kuroda, however, re-signed without fielding offers from other teams according to Dylan Hernandez of the L.A. Times.
  • Add the Rangers to the list of teams showing interest in Victor Martinez says SI.com's Jon Heyman (via Twitter).
  • WEEI.com's Rob Bradford tweets that Hideki Okajima is subject to a normal arbitration calendar this offseason. In the past the Red Sox had to offer him a contract by November 20th.
  • Non-tender candidate Kyle Davies hopes to remain with the Royals, says MLB.com's Dick Kaegel. Davies hasn't heard anything from the team regarding his future.
  • Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com reports that Cliff Lee's agent Darek Braunecker is still unsure if he will attend this week's GM Meetings.
  • MLB.com's Jane Lee provides a list of power bat the Athletics could potentially pursue as free agents this offseason.
  • The Yankees don't believe that Derek Jeter will ultimately leave New York, but they're prepared for a long negotiation according to Heyman (Twitter link).
  • Meanwhile, Jon Paul Morosi of FoxSports.com tweets that there is still no word whether or not Andy Pettitte will return to pitch in 2011.
  • Cardinals GM John Mozeliak doesn't expect any roster moves at this week's meetings according to MLB.com's Matthew Leach. Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com says the team is growing more optimistic about re-signing Jake Westbrook, however (Twitter link).
  • Indians GM Chris Antonetti told Paul Hoynes of The Cleveland Plain Dealer that it's too early in the offseason to tell whether his team's needs will be filled through trades or free agency.
  • MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith is on location at this week's GM Meetings in Orlando, and you can follow him on Twitter at @mlbtrorlando for the latest breaking news and analysis.
  • There is mutual interest between the Marlins and free agent catcher A.J. Pierzynski, reports Joe Capozzi of The Palm Beach Post. Capozzi says the team might not be able to afford him, though they could free up payroll space by dealing Dan Uggla
  • FoxSports.com's Ken Rosenthal says that the Dodgers are looking to add power to their lineup, and James Loney is the player they're most most willing to trade. They would then turn around and sign one of the many power-hitting first baseman available on the free agent market.
  • Mets GM Sandy Alderson said that the first round of manager interviews includes one or two more candidates while the second round will consist of three or four candidates according to Andy Martino of The New York Daily News (all Twitter links). The second set of interviews could begin in Orlando this week, and Alderson said his father's death on Sunday will not slow things down.
  • ESPN's Jerry Crasnick profiles Giants GM Brian Sabean and the work that lies ahead following his team's World Series victory.
  • Joe Pawlikowski of River Ave. Blues looks at how signing Lee would impact the Yankees' future payroll. Meanwhile, Brian Cashman told MLB.com's Bryan Hoch that he doesn't expect to get any deals done this week.
  • Best of luck to MLB.com's Jordan Bastian. He's trading in the Blue Jays' beat for the Indians' beat.

Rockies Rumors: Martinez, Jackson, Wigginton

Rockies GM Dan O’Dowd told Jim Armstrong of the Denver Post that he’s looking for the "right player" this offseason, not the "best player." As Armstrong explains, that could be bad news for the Rockies fans hoping to see Victor Martinez in Denver:

  • The Rockies aren’t likely to make the winning bid on Martinez, though he caught the team’s attention as a potential free agent target.
  • Colorado would pursue an innings eater if Jorge de la Rosa proves too expensive to re-sign. The lefty is drawing interest from multiple teams, including the Yankees and Nationals.
  • Joe Beimel could return to Colorado, but the Rockies have other left-handed relievers including Matt Reynolds and Franklin Morales, so their need for Beimel isn’t pressing.
  • Adding a right-handed hitter is a priority for the Rockies. Their list of candidates includes Conor JacksonTy Wigginton and Jermaine Dye. Jackson is a non-tender candidate and may join Wigginton and Dye on the free agent market within a few weeks. The Rockies have already contacted Dye about a potential deal.

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.


Sherman On Crawford, Angels, Tigers, Greinke

In his latest Hardball piece for the New York Post, Joel Sherman previews the upcoming GM meetings and look specifically at what to expect for a few top free agents and trade targets. Here are some of the highlights:

  • "Three teams with money will definitely be bidding" on Carl Crawford, according to an American League insider. Those three teams? The Red Sox, Tigers, and Angels.
  • People around baseball expect the Angels to spend big this winter, with one of Sherman's sources indicating that it wouldn't surprise him to see the Halos end up with Crawford, Rafael Soriano, and Adrian Beltre.
  • Several executives believe the Tigers will make a play for two bats from the top tier of free agents, which includes Crawford, Jayson Werth, Adam Dunn, and Victor Martinez.
  • Sherman predicts that Werth will sign a contract that lands somewhere in between the deals signed by Jason Bay and Matt Holliday a year ago. Five years and $90MM is the estimate from Sherman.
  • According to an NL exec, a Zack Greinke trade may be unlikely because the Royals "are starting from a position of not wanting to trade [Greinke], and when you start there, it is hard to get anywhere." Still, Sherman names the Rangers as a team to watch in the Greinke sweepstakes, particularly if Cliff Lee signs elsewhere.