On Tuesday the Tigers learned that they'll be without Victor Martinez for the 2012 season and the club won't be able to truly replace everything that he brings to the lineup, writes Jayson Stark of ESPN.com. Only four other players matched or bested the 33-year-old's .330/.380/.470 slash line last season: Adrian Gonzalez, Ryan Braun, Michael Young and Miguel Cabrera. Stark takes a look at Detroit's options and much more in tonight's column:
- Before Carlos Pena re-upped with the Rays, it appeared he was at the top of the Tigers' list. Now, Stark says that the club could deal for Bobby Abreu, sign Yoenis Cespedes, or bring Johnny Damon back for another go-round in Detroit. Outside of those players, the club could look into left-handed-hitting free agents such as Hideki Matsui, Raul Ibanez, J.D. Drew, and Kosuke Fukudome. Right-handed options include Vladimir Guerrero, Magglio Ordonez, Cody Ross, and Derrek Lee.
- One club official estimated that he had about a dozen conversations with the Mariners this winter and Michael Pineda's name never came up. That's probably because M's GM Jack Zduriencik wanted young, controllable, impact bats like Jesus Montero, Mike Stanton, and Logan Morrison and only dangled the pitcher to those teams. Eventually, it was the Yanks who made the deal.
- There are also two "conspiracy theories" floating around regarding the deal. One school of thought has people wondering if Pineda's fading velocity down the stretch trigged the M's to trade him. There are also clubs wondering if the Yankees had concerns about Montero's mental make-up.
- There has never been a team in history with three $20MM-a-year pitchers, but the Phillies will have to be the first if they want to hang on to Cole Hamels. The club has been hoping that Hamels would take a Jered Weaver-type deal, but agent John Boggs wants more. Stark believes that this is due in part to his view of C.C. Sabathia and Ryan Howard. Sabathia was the last dominant left-hander to hit the market at age 28 and Howard comes up in conversation because the Phillies gave him top-of-the-market dollars two years before free agency.
- One team executive said that "Next year this time, the Dodgers will be THE team calling up every marquee free agent. They're going to have serious money. They'll be the Yankees West."
- Rockies GM Dan O'Dowd has amassed so much controllable starting-pitching depth, he might turn around and trade an arm or two to replenish his position-player prospect pool. Earlier today, O'Dowd shipped Kevin Slowey to the Indians for right-handed reliever Zach Putnam.
- The Angels are downplaying the possibility that they'll add a closer to supplant Jordan Walden. They've been looking for another left-handed reliever, they've checked in on Brad Lidge, and now they're basically "looking to deepen their supporting cast," according to one exec.
- Agents who have spoken with the Yankees say that, despite rumors they could sign a DH-type like Damon, Matsui or Ibanez, the team isn't too hungry for a bat. One source says that, in truth, the Yankees have told agents that a veteran DH is actually "a very low priority."