The Detroit Tigers rumor mill is slow this time of year, but there is one piece of new (if unsurprising) information we can kick around.
Victor Martinez made it known that he would like to stay with the Detroit Tigers beyond this season, but it remains to be seen whether he would be an option for the team or not. It was previously thought that Prince Fielder (or Miguel Cabrera) would transition to DH for the 2015 season (with the other playing first base), but that’s obviously not an option anymore. Prince’s departure via trade has created a potential future opening for another bat-only player.
Martinez will be 36 in a year’s time and will no doubt be looking for as much guaranteed money as he can get in what figures to be his last contract. Unfortunately for Martinez, the Tigers probably aren’t looking to sink large amounts of dollars and years into a declining designated hitter. The only way I see Martinez returning to the Tigers is if he accepts a one-year deal, and the only way I see him accepting a one-year deal is if it’s a qualifying offer.
Martinez has averaged 1.7 fWAR per season in each of his two full years with the Tigers, so a qualifying offer (at $14-ish million) would seem like a bit of an overpay unless his 2014 is much more like his 2011 than his 2013 season.
The Tigers will have to figure for arbitration increases to Rick Porcello, Austin Jackson, Alex Avila, Drew Smyly, Andy Dirks (along with possibly a few others) and also have to decide if they’re going to make Max Scherzer an aggressive long-term offer. If they do, much of the $26 million being paid out this season to Martinez and Torii Hunter (and then “coming off the books”) could be eaten up by retaining current players. It’s hard to also imagine the team paying double-digit millions to Martinez in that scenario.
I’d say, at this point, the odds look long on Martinez staying in Detroit past this season, but if he has a good year at the plate, and if they decide not to extend Scherzer, I could see the team extending a qualifying offer to bring him back as the DH for one more season.