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Tigers set sights on free agent Martinez
The Detroit Tigers have made clear their intent to acquire a middle-of-the-order hitter.
And right now, they're focused on Victor Martinez.
Martinez, the switch-hitting catcher, has become the Tigers' top priority among all free-agent hitters — including Jayson Werth and Adam Dunn — multiple sources said Thursday.
It's not clear whether Detroit's made a contract offer to Martinez, who's believed to be seeking a four or five-year deal.
Martinez produced close to his career norms for the Boston Red Sox this year, batting .302 with 20 home runs and 79 RBI. The Red Sox, Orioles and Rangers are among the teams that have been linked to him this offseason.
Martinez, who turns 32 next month, would like to catch as much as possible. The subject of playing time behind the plate is certain to come up in discussions between the Tigers and representatives for Martinez.
Alex Avila, who batted .228 this year, is the only catcher currently on Detroit's 40-man roster. His father, Al Avila, is the team's assistant general manager.
The biggest drawback to Martinez is a below-average throwing arm, but he still started an average of 94 games at catcher during the past two seasons. The Tigers should be able to accommodate at least that number of starts, with Martinez spending the rest of his time as a designated hitter.
Martinez also has experience at first base, but he wouldn't figure to play there very often in Detroit. Star first baseman Miguel Cabrera made only two starts at DH this year, despite battling injuries.
Detroit has two advantages with Martinez it doesn't have with fellow free agents Werth, Dunn or Carl Crawford: Martinez is very familiar with living in the Midwest, having started his career with the Cleveland Indians. And the Tigers have become one of the most popular teams in Martinez's native Venezuela, because of Cabrera, Carlos Guillen and Magglio Ordonez.
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