Detroit general manager Dave Dombrowski says the Tigers’ top priority is re-signing Victor Martinez now that the slugger is a free agent after declining the team’s qualifying offer.
”We like Victor. We hope he remains with us,” Dombrowski said Tuesday at baseball’s general managers meetings. ”We’ll see what happens.”
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He was less optimistic about retaining right-hander Max Scherzer, who also declined a qualifying offer.
”People are aware that we like Max. He did a great job for us,” Dombrowski said. ”We made a real strong effort to sign him this past year, and now we’re really more in a whole waiting mode. From their perspective, I’m sure they’re going to check with the situation on the market.”
Martinez and Scherzer were among 12 major leaguers who declined the $15.3 million qualifying offer by Monday’s deadline, the third straight year all of those eligible had done so, opting instead to try for long-term deals.
The 35-year-old Martinez batted .335 as the Tigers’ designated hitter, with 32 home runs and 103 RBI.
Scherzer went 18-5 with a 3.15 ERA in 33 starts last season.
The four-day meetings in Arizona are the traditional kickoff to offseason trade and free-agent talks.
The action began on Monday’s opening day of the sessions, with the announcement that Michael Cuddyer was leaving Colorado, signing a two-year, $21 million contract with the New York Mets.
The Chicago Cubs have been pegged as a potential big player in the free-agent market, but general manager Jed Hoyer downplayed such speculation.
”We have some financial flexibility. We have some needs,” he said. ”So I think people are connecting us to a lot of different players. We certainly want to improve our team and we’ll probably use free agency to do it, but I do think the reports of kind of a supercharged offseason are a little bit overstated.”
Hoyer declined to comment on a New York Post report that Major League Baseball was investigating possible tampering in the Cubs’ hiring of manager Joe Madden away from the Tampa Bay Rays. He referred instead to comments made Monday by Cubs president Theo Epstein, who said he welcomed any investigation.
”There was no tampering whatsoever,” Epstein told reporters. ”I’d rather they investigate so we can clear our name and move on from this quickly. We’re giving our full cooperation and we welcome it.”
The Boston Red Sox, who tumbled from first place to last in the AL East, are looking to find some sustained success, general manager Ben Cherington said.
”I think we have the resources to do that,” he said.
Cherington said the Red Sox are looking for help in the rotation.
”We’d like to find a left-handed hitter to add to the mix somewhere,” he said. ”I think there’s some different ways to do that, (and add) a catcher of some variety.”
Like most teams, the Red Sox would like to add some left-handed help in the bullpen.
The Los Angeles Dodgers, meanwhile, reportedly are trying to reduce their overpopulated outfield, possibly by moving Andre Ethier or Carl Crawford. Matt Kemp also might be in the mix, although he returned to his old powerful form in the last half of the season.
New Dodgers general manager Farhan Zaidi had little to say on that subject, or anything else. The team is thought to be looking to slice at least a little off its record $256 million payroll.
”All 30 clubs are trying to do the same thing, build the best team possible mindful of the marginal value of the dollar and maintaining long-term flexibility,” he said. ”We may be operating at a different scale, but definitely our motivations are the same. I know it’s a generic answer, but it’s a true one.”
New Arizona general manager Dave Stewart is looking for a starting pitcher. He also would like to be in the mix for Cuban outfielder Yasmani Tomas, although he knows the cost might be too steep.
”He’s a guy that could come in and have some pretty good impact on our team and in our lineup,” Stewart said. ”We have to consider being a part of it.”
The meetings continue on Wednesday and conclude Thursday morning.