FoxSports.com's Jon Paul Morosi reports Victor Martinez is the top priority for the Detroit Tigers this offseason, according to "multiple sources."
It's not clear whether Detroit has made a contract offer to Martinez. He is believed to be seeking a four- or five-year deal.
I haven't sat down for a deep analysis of Martinez. (coming next week!) but we can all recite the facts by now I'm sure. He wants to catch but he's not very good at it. He plays first base but there's a Silver Slugger winner there by the name of Miguel Cabrera. He hasn't spent much time as designated hitter but in the short time he was there he didn't do so great.
He drives in runs, he gets on base, he bats switch. All that good stuff. He can hit, no doubt about that.
He's been a 4 win player every season since 2004 if you want to speak in sabermetric language. Translation: he's consistently good. That is driven in part by the positional scarcity of starting at catcher though. If you take his catching out of the equation you have to downgrade what your estimate of his value to your team in the future is.
And oh yes, he wants to be paid like a catcher who can hit the ball really for a four- or five-year deal.
It's that last part that concerns me. It's not that I would turn Martinez's bat away. But if he wants to be paid like a premier catcher when he can't stick at the position, then what you're going to end up with is a team that costs too much and doesn't get good enough of results down the line. That would make it costly for the Tigers to be able to make the moves necessary to remain a division competitor in the latter years of Justin Verlander's and Cabrera's contracts. That's why it's a concern. The argument "It's not my money" should never be used because the teams do operate on a budget.
By my quick scribbling on the back of a cocktail napkin, the Tigers could pay him an average of about $12 million a season and I'd probably feel comfortable with it. Four years, I'd feel comfortable with it. Past that for money or contract length and I start to get concerned.