It's impossible to predict when a player will go down. In Victor Martinez's case, it was essentially a freak ACL injury that put him out for the season, and brought Prince Fielder to the Tigers for the next nine seasons. It was clear that Illitch and Dombrowski were looking to add an impact bat that could truly replace Victor's spot in the lineup. But of course, at the time of Victor's injury, Fielder was essentially the only big free agent left that could replace him. But how would the Tigers handled free agency if we had known that there was going to be a vacancy at DH this year?
In terms of total money, it could be said that that adding Jose Reyes and C.J. Wilson would have had a bigger impact on our team together for less money. Reyes is set to receive $106 million over 6 years with an option and Wilson will receive $77.5 million over five years. This would have caused a change in our infield defense, with Peralta moving to either 2B or 3B, but this seems like a smoother transition than Cabrera making the move to 3B, and doesn't create a logjam in 2013 when Victor returns. The main problem I have with this is the backloading on the deals, with Reyes receiving $22 million on his final three years of the deal, and Wilson receiving $18 and $20 million on his final two years. This would push the yearly salaries up for 2014 and 2015 dramatically, and would make holding onto current players much more difficult. But I imagine the Tigers would avoid this sort of backloading if they were to hypothetically sign these players, but nothing is certain. Players tend to like backloading as it acts as a sort of no-trade clause. Maybe sign Mark Buehrle at $58 million for four years instead?
As fun as it is to consider these possibilities, it's really nothing more than an exercise in hindsight. But if you were the all-knowing GM and foresaw Victor's injury, what would you do with $214 million and a hole in the DH spot?