Could Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez both be missing from Detroit Tigers Opening Day Lineup?


Two big pieces of Detroit Tigers’ offseason news broke on Friday. The first was that Miguel Cabrera underwent successful surgery to remove bone spurs in his right ankle and to repair a stress fracture to his navicular bone. The second was that Victor Martinez is seeking a four-year deal from the Tigers, or another club, and will reject any qualifying offer.

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With Miggy’s injury and V-Mart reportedly drawing a line in the sand, a sobering thought occurred to me that neither player could be in the 2015 Opening Day lineup for the Tigers.

One of the factors of the Cabrera announcement yesterday that gave me pause was no proclamation that he’d be ready by Spring Training. Last year when Justin Verlander had his surprise surgery in January, the team was quick to point out that J.V. should be on track to pitch in Lakeland, and he did just that–midway through camp.

There was no similar announcement for Cabrera, which is surprising considering we are still in October and Spring Training is still four months away. The only future date given was that he’d be “reevaluated in January.”

Later in the day, Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweeted that the Tigers were caught completely off-guard by the severity of the injury. While they knew about the bone spurs, the stress fracture seemed to come as a surprise. Nightengale further stated that Miggy had two screws placed in his ankle and may not be ready for Opening Day.

Now on to Martinez, who delighted Tigers’ fans by saying at seasons-end that he loves playing in Detroit and wants to give his current team the first crack at resigning him. Many fans driving the “Keep Victor Bus” would be happy if the Tigers offered him a two-year deal, however even adding in a club or player option for a third year (or even a guaranteed third year) would be a worthwhile gamble considering the MVP-caliber numbers V-Mart put up in 2014.

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reported Friday that not only is Martinez seeking three years, he wants four. The Tigers signed V-Mart to a four-year, $52 million deal prior to 2011 and despite missing the entire 2012 season, the team couldn’t have been happier with what he contributed. Now 35-years old, it might be too much for the Tigers to ask to give him another four-year contract.

The Tigers have no problem spending money when its needed (and when its not), but Dave Dombrowski acknowledged last week that there are limits to that spending. If V-Mart is firm on four years that might just be the breaking point. Perhaps he’d agree on an incentive-laden fourth year, however after the year Martinez just completed, the player is holding all the chips in any contract negotiation.

The Tigers have endured injuries from Cabrera and Martinez over the years, but unless they land a big fish in free agency that swings a mean bat (unlikely) and Miggy is still injured while V-Mart is playing elsewhere, that 2015 lineup looks extremely poor.