DETROIT — Wednesday the Tigers announced they had re-signed designated hitter Victor Martinez to a four-year contract extension, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post.
President and GM Dave Dombrowski said Martinez was the Tigers' priority going into the offseason all along. Now they've made it official and Martinez now becomes the highest-paid designated hitter of all time.
MLB.com's Ken Rosenthal originally reported the deal, and ESPN's Enrique Rojas was first to announce the $68 million guarantee. Had Martinez left to another club, it would've created a large hole the Tigers would've needed to fill. Dombrowski had said they were exploring other options if a deal wasn't possible, but he was clear that wasn't the direction he wanted to go.
The deal further limits the Tigers ability to spend in the future, but they clearly thought it was necessary, especially with Martinez coming off a career-year. With Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez, and J.D. Martinez in the 3-4-5 hole, it creates what Dombrowski called the strongest in MLB. The Tigers thought that was worth keeping.
With Cabrera's recent ankle surgery this offseason and several injuries in the last two years, there's concern Cabrera could be wearing down, which would leave the Tigers with two DH's in the near future if he needs to DH more frequently.
However, the Tigers aren't worrying about it right now, and they would've had a difficult time finding someone else who could fill the void left by Martinez. At 36-years-old, he will undoubtedly regress at some point, but the Tigers felt the risk was well worth it.
A finalist for the 2014 MVP, Martinez finished 2014 with 103 RBI, 33 doubles, and he hit a career-high 32 home runs. Martinez also had a career-high .565 slugging percentage and drew 70 walks while striking out just 42 times, the lowest in MLB batters with 120-or-more plate appearances.
His 5.6 oWAR was eighth in the AL and his .335 batting average was second in MLB.