Hogg: Reported deal for Martinez less risky than it sounds

The four-year deal that Ken Rosenthal is reporting is less risky than it first sounds for a 35-year-old, because of Victor Martinez's set of skills.

Joy R. Absalon

According to a report from FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, the Tigers are about to take care of one of their key free-agent decisions.

Rosenthal tweeted Wednesday afternoon that his sources indicate the Tigers are close to signing Victor Martinez to a four-year contract. Jon Morosi, also of FOX Sports, reported later that the deal is for $68 million. At $17 million a season, it would lock up Martinez until he was 39 — the time where he has said he plans to retire.

Martinez is coming off an outstanding year, hitting .335 with an AL-high .974 OPS and a career-high 32 homers, and has hit at least .300 in each of his last five seasons. He also appeared in his fifth All-Star Game, and is expected to receive some votes for the American League MVP.

Dave Dombrowski made it clear at the end of the season that the Tigers hoped to have Martinez back — they have won the AL Central every season since he joined the team, although he missed 2012 with a knee injury, and he is unquestionably the leader of the Detroit clubhouse — but there was always going to be interest from other teams. 

The four-year deal that Rosenthal is reporting is less risky that it first sounds for a 35-year-old, because of Martinez’s set of skills. He’s never had speed, and he’s a designated hitter, so the aging process isn’t going to take away baserunning or defensive value. He’s not likely to hit 30 homers again, but there’s no reason to think his ability to hit line drives will vanish in the next year or two.

Will Martinez be worth $17 million a season when he’s 39? Probably not, but the Tigers are playing for 2015 and 2016, knowing that the long-term contracts that they’ve given Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera will also become major financial burdens by the end of this decade. 

If they win their elusive World Series title in the next year or two, a roster with old players on huge contracts won’t hurt nearly as much down the road.