Almost lost in the controversy over the Alex Gonzalez acquisition was another move the Detroit Tigers made this afternoon, signing former Houston Astros outfielder J.D. Martinez to a minor-league deal.
Martinez is 26-year-old right-hand hitting corner outfielder who has spent most of the last three seasons in left field for the Astros. A disappointing 2013 led to Martinez's removal from the Astros’ 40-man roster after the season, but was invited to spring training as a non-roster invitee. A 3-for-18 spring ultimately sealed his fate with the Astros. Take it with a grain of salt, but at the time of his release Houston GM Jeff Luhnow called Martinez "a victim of our own success."
In 2011, Baseball America ranked Martinez sixth among Astros prospects. Called up at mid-season, Martinez impressed by hitting .274/.319/.423 with six home runs and 35 RBIs in 53 games. Expected to be their primary left fielder the following season, Martinez was unable to build upon his rookie year. Despite hitting 11 home runs and adding 55 RBIs, Martinez's offensive numbers dropped across the board in 2012, hitting just .241/.311/.375 in 439 at bats over 113 games. Martinez's OPS fell to a career low .650 in a unimpressive 2013 season, hitting just .250/.272/.378 with seven homers and 36 RBIs in 296 at bats. In 252 games as an Astro, Martinez hit .251/.300/.387, a career .687 OPS.
Considered organizational depth for Detroit, Martinez will report to the Tigers' minor league camp and is expected to start the year in Triple-A Toledo's outfield.