The Tigers have recently been signing a few minor league free agents to fill out their AAA roster in Toledo. Another option has become available recently, and it’s one that has some upside, unlike most other minor league free agent options. The New York Mets waived outfielder Fernando Martinez yesterday, and he should be an attractive sign to a lot of clubs, including the Tigers.
Given that the Tigers farm system lacks some top end talent beyond just a couple of players, it wouldn’t hurt to add Martinez to an outfield mix in AAA for 2012 to see what he could do. It may be that the 4 time member of Baseball America’s top 100 could do well with a change of scenery.
Martinez is a left handed hitting outfielder, who at this point profiles best in right field. Throughout his career, Martinez has battled a multitude of injuries, but his power potential has always intrigued people in baseball to not give up on him. He shows good bat speed from the left side, and there are some that feel he could hit for decent average as a pro. There are some holes in Martinez’ swing, as he does strike out around 20% of the time over his minor league career, but maybe a new set of eyes from a different organization could help. Martinez isn’t going to walk a ton, but despite that, he does have pretty good hand-eye coordination, and has shown an ability to square up balls to make hard contact to all fields.
Martinez at one time had above average speed, but one of his injuries is basically a constant struggle, and that is his knees. There has been some concern that there is an arthritic condition in his knees, which would obviously sap speed from his body some. He still shows enough running ability to be average, especially in a corner outfield position. He has above average arm strength, but no longer would be able to play CF, which he did for a while coming up in the minors.
The Tigers current outfield appears to be set heading into 2012, but the situation is somewhat tenuous. Delmon Young isn’t the most productive outfielder out there, and Austin Jackson and Brennan Boesch still are relatively unproven. Adding someone of Martinez’ talent can’t hurt the organization one bit, and there is little reason not to at least consider giving Martinez a look. The Tigers I believe would have to make room on their 40 man roster for him, so there would have to be a move there, but Martinez still has a minor league option left.
I’m certainly not suggesting Martinez as a viable major league option right now. After all, he has struggled mightily in his brief big league appearances, but Martinez is still just 23 years old. Due to his injuries, it is quite possible that he hasn’t yet become the player he could be, simply from the lack of at-bats. He could potentially be a steal for an organization like Detroit.
Given the lack of outfield depth and production in the upper minors of Detroit’s system, Martinez would be a boost to the talent level, and a quality signing by the Tigers.