Victor Martinez Rumors
The Dodgers' latest move is one we can all celebrate: the team announced yesterday that incomparable broadcaster Vin Scully will return to the Dodger booth next year for the 65th straight season. As usual, Scully dropped some wisdom on the occasion: "Just the thought of walking away from it to retirement — and looking out the window or something? It's just too good." Indeed, it is. Elsewhere around the game ...
- With starting backstop Alex Avila still working back from a concussion after scuffling for most of the year, the division-leading Tigers might have found themselves scrambling to add catching depth. Instead, the club made a risky move that could pay long-term dividends, putting primary DH Victor Martinez back behind the dish for the first time since August of 2011. The initial returns were positive, and the club could suit Martinez up for interleague matchups down the stretch or in a hypothetical World Series.
- Always productive on Saturday mornings, Phil Mackey of 1500ESPN.com offered a spirited defense of the Twins' decision not to bring in any high-priced starters last year. (All links to Twitter.) Rejecting the suggestion that Minnesota should have signed Anibal Sanchez and pointing to the Royals' acquisition of James Shields as an ill-advised, premature plunge, Mackey summed things up with a broader philosophy for a small-market team like the Twins: "Draft. Develop. Sell high. Supplement your core with smart spending. Lock players in before arbitration. Avoid stupid contracts."
- For next season, Mackey further tweets, Phil Hughes could be a nice target for Minnesota. The suggestion could make sense, given Hughes' youth, the potential to buy low, and Target Field's home run suppression.
- The Phillies, needless to say, face a number of questions as they finish out a second-straight disappointing season with an aging core. Bob Brookover of the Philadelphia Inquirer took an interesting look at one major forthcoming task for GM Ruben Amaro Jr.: "completely rebuilding one of baseball's worst bullpens." In his tenure as GM, Brookover notes, Amaro has signed seven free-agent set-up men or middle relievers for a combined $22.85MM (not including year two of the Mike Adams deal). They have combined for a 4.76 ERA. Neither has the organization been successful at developing its own bullpen arms, says Brookover, who does note that some current youngsters -- in particular, Jake Diekman -- offer hope.
- Looking ahead to 2014, Amaro seemed to imply that the Phils will likely be shopping for turnaround candidates in the free agent market. "Sometimes you have to be lucky to get those guys," Amaro said. "There are times when even a change of scenery can help someone. Those are the kinds of things we will look for."
The Padres franchise is still looking for its first no-hitter, as Andrew Cashner's no-hit bid was ended after 6 1/3 innings tonight. It still ended up being a good night for San Diego, however, as the Friars rallied for a six-run ninth inning in their 7-3 win over the Astros.
Some notes from around the majors...
- Vernon Wells tells Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports that he has no plans to waive his no-trade clause since he enjoys playing for the Angels, though he may not receive much playing time once he returns from the DL. Morosi speculates that the right-handed hitting Wells could be a fit for the Dodgers, Reds or Indians. Any trade would involve the Angels eating the large majority of the approximately $53MM Wells is still owed through the 2014 season.
- Brewers owner Mark Attanasio covered many topics during a Q&A with local business owners (reported on by Bob Wolfley of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel), such as the team's payroll, the change in how the Brewers are perceived around baseball and how the team is having "an uncomfortable time" deciding whether or not they're contenders or sellers.
- If Victor Martinez is able to play this season, it won't until mid-September at the earliest, Tigers head trainer Kevin Rand told reporters (including Chris Iott of Mlive.com). Martinez is recovering after tearing his ACL in January.
- The Mariners aren't on pace to contend before Felix Hernandez's contract is up at the end of the 2014 season, argues Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times, and should thus explore trading the ace right-hander.
- With just a few days left before the July 2 international signing deadline, Ben Badler of Baseball America discusses some of the top prospects with various international scouting directors.
- The Cardinals are looking for both starting and relief pitching, and Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch examines whch is a greater need for the club.
- The Yankees announced that right-hander Adam Warren has been placed on the 25-man roster and signed to a Major League contract. In corresponding moves, Ryota Igarashi was also called up while C.C. Sabathia was placed on the 15-day DL and Andy Pettitte went on the 60-day DL. Warren, a fourth-round pick in the 2009 amateur draft, has a 3.05 ERA in 79 career minor league starts and he'll make his Major League debut on Friday in Sabathia's rotation spot.
- The week's minor league transactions are recapped by Matt Eddy of Baseball America.
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).