Tigers outfielder J.D. Martinez has been diagnosed with a sprain of the lisfranc ligament in his right foot, as MLB.com’s Jason Beck reports (Twitter links). He is not expected to re-start baseball activities for at least three to four weeks and will require a cast for seven to ten days.
That’s obviously not the best news for the Tigers, though it’s clearly preferable to a more significant injury. Martinez had been subjected to a stress CT scan to ensure the problem was limited to his ligament. As things stand, it seems he won’t miss too much time early so long as his rehab progresses smoothly.
Detroit is in something of an odd position entering the season: the organization announced its intentions to begin adding youth and trimming payroll costs, but only ended up dealing one veteran (Cameron Maybin) over the winter. As it stands, then, the club remains a plausible contender in the AL Central and continues to carry a variety of expensive players.
Among the core pieces of the current MLB roster, Martinez features as the most obvious potential trade candidate — at least, that is, if the Tigers aren’t in contention at the trade deadline. Martinez, 29, will be a free agent after the year, so Detroit will only be able to secure value in return if it deals him or makes him a qualifying offer at season’s end. (The organization has shown no inclination to engage in extension talks with Martinez this spring.)
Since coming to the Tigers, Martinez has turned himself into one of the game’s premier sluggers. He owns a .299/.357/.540 batting line with 83 home runs over the past three seasons. MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes recently rated Martinez sixth among pending free agents.
Any lost time from Martinez will cost Detroit on the field, though it’s possible his absence could alleviate some immediate roster pressures. The club has been weighing how to handle several out-of-options position players, including outfielders Tyler Collins and Steven Moya as well as infielder Dixon Machado. It’s now plausible to imagine all three cracking the Opening Day roster, though all three have struggled this spring and Jason Martinez of MLBTR and Roster Resource currently projects Machado to hit the waiver wire.
Detroit will now need to make decisions on need of filling two outfield jobs. In center, Collins could platoon with Mikie Mahtook or JaCoby Jones. With an impressive spring, Alex Presley may now be positioned take over in right, though he has yet to nail down a steady role in the big leagues despite plenty of opportunities over the past seven seasons. And the decision in right could depend upon how the club feels about affording chances to Moya, who was once viewed as a significant prospect.