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…
- 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.
- 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.
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.