The Indians announced on Thursday that they’ve signed re-signed infielder/outfielder Michael Martinez to a minor league deal and also added veteran backstop Erik Kratz on a minor league pact. Both players will be invited to Major League Spring Training.
Martinez, 34, appeared in 59 games with Cleveland last year and batted .242/.265/.316 with a homer and four doubles in 99 plate appearances (across two stints with the team). The longtime Phillies utility piece showed some versatility by appearing at all three outfield positions, second base, shortstop and third base this past season. For his career, he’s graded out as a roughly average infielder all around the diamond, and while he doesn’t bring much to the table from an offensive standpoint, that level of versatility can certainly be valuable to a club, even if he doesn’t excel at any one defensive position. Young Erik Gonzalez would seem to have the inside track on a utility role for Cleveland next year, but there could be room for Martinez as well depending on how the rest of the team’s offseason shakes out.
Kratz, 36, appeared in 33 games with the Astros and Pirates last season but struggled to a .094/.105/.153 batting line in his 87 trips to the plate. While he’s never been a standout offensive contributor, Kratz has certainly delivered better production than that in the past, as he entered the 2016 season as a lifetime .218/.270/.397 hitter in 560 Major League plate appearances. Cleveland figures to deploy Yan Gomes and Roberto Perez as its primary receivers in 2017, but Kratz could see some time at Triple-A or be a veteran depth option in the Majors should an injury force the need. He’s thrown out 34 percent of opposing base thieves in his career and typically receives positive framing grades both in the minors and in the Majors.