Martinez deal has larger implications

BY foxsports • November 23, 2010

Victor Martinez has agreed to a four-year, $50 million contract with the Detroit Tigers.

One player. One free-agent contract. But the deal raises a full Thanksgiving dinner of talking points for Hot Stove aficionados.

Consider:

• The market for Adam Dunn is officially one team smaller.

Martinez likely will see a significant number of at-bats as Detroit’s designated hitter. With Miguel Cabrera ensconced at first base, there is no room for Dunn on this team.

Yes, Dunn has experience in the outfield. But he’s not a fit for this outfield. There would be too much ground for him to cover at Comerica Park.

• Speaking of Dunn, a source said today that the Washington Nationals aren’t pursuing him with much vigor any longer. They appear to be on the fringe of the sweepstakes now.

• After whiffing on Martinez, the pressure is on the Chicago White Sox to come away with Dunn or their own free-agent slugger, Paul Konerko.

At this point, the White Sox will have a lot of splainin’ to do if they don’t re-sign their captain. Konerko hit .312 this year with 39 home runs and 111 RBI.

Dunn, meanwhile, could be a fit on the North Side.

• Miguel Cabrera may have finished second in the American League Most Valuable Player balloting on Tuesday, but the Martinez contract was a big victory for him.

Cabrera lobbied his Venezuelan countryman to come to Detroit in several conversations over the past couple weeks, a source said.

The Tigers remain one of the most popular teams among Venezuelan baseball fans. Since 2008, Detroit has employed a number of noteworthy Venezuelans: Cabrera, Carlos Guillen, Magglio Ordonez, Freddy Garcia, Armando Galarraga, and now Martinez.

• The Tigers’ best-case catching scenario should include Alex Avila for 90-100 games and Martinez for 60-70. As Detroit’s new No. 5 hitter, Martinez is so vital to the Tigers that he must DH frequently in order to remain in the lineup behind Cabrera.

• If Ordonez is going to return to the Tigers as a free agent, he must be able to play right field for 90 or 100 games.

Let’s assume Martinez is the DH in 80 games. So, manager Jim Leyland will need someone else to DH for the other 82. He will probably want to distribute those opportunities among Cabrera, Ordonez (if he returns) and Guillen (if he’s healthy).

Ordonez has progressed well this offseason in his recovery from right ankle surgery, sources say.

• Now that the Tigers have satisfied their need for a left-handed slugger, it will be interesting to see if they make a serious play for Jayson Werth. They have never been the favorite to land him — the Red Sox are – but he would fill the Tigers’ need for an outfield bat. In a big way.

Agent Scott Boras represents both Werth and Ordonez. Because of Ordonez’s track record in Detroit, Boras may prefer to keep him there and send Werth to a larger market.



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