Source: Detroit, Martinez OK 4-year deal

The first big domino on the free-agent market appears to have fallen.

Catcher Victor Martinez has agreed to a deal with the Detroit Tigers, a source confirms.

Ignacio Serrano, a reporter for Venezuela’s El Nacional, reported that Martinez will receive a four-year, $50 million contract.

The Tigers outbid the Red Sox, White Sox and Orioles, Serrano said.

A final decision is expected Friday or Saturday, according to FOXSports.com’s source, who described the Tigers as “very aggressive” in their pursuit of Martinez. The timing of such an announcement would make sense, given that Serrano said that Martinez still must fly to the United States from Venezuela for a physical.

It’s not clear yet what Martinez’s role will be. Martinez started 106 games behind the plate for the Red Sox this year, so he is capable of serving as Detroit’s everyday catcher.

However, the Tigers may prefer to use Martinez as their designated hitter in as many as 80 or 90 games. While returning catcher Alex Avila is less experienced, he has the stronger throwing arm.

Martinez, who turns 32 next month, has averaged roughly 135 games per season since 2004. As long as he remains healthy, that number could increase if he does not catch as often. One person in the industry believes the Tigers will seek to use Martinez in 150 games — 80 at DH, 60 at catcher, 10 at first base.

The signing of Martinez would continue the Tigers’ aggressive restructuring.

The team already has reached agreements with three players on multi-year deals – third baseman Brandon Inge, shortstop Jhonny Peralta and reliever Joaquin Benoit.