Detroit Tigers designated hitter Victor Martinez said that he is ”pretty sure” he will retire after the current baseball season is over. Martinez made the comments during a post-game interview, which aired on Fox Sports Detroit after Wednesday’s game at Comerica Park.
“I’m pretty sure this is going to be it,” Martinez said. “I’m just enjoying these last six weeks and I’ll finally go home.”
Martinez will end a 16 year major league career that has included eight seasons with the Tigers, six with the Cleveland Indians and two with the Boston Red Sox. He has made five All-Star teams and finished in the top 25 players in MVP voting six times. He is in the final year of a four-year contract with Detroit that pays him $68 million.
Over 16 seasons, he has logged 8,059 plate appearances and hit .295/.360/.455 for an .815 OPS. He has 243 career home runs, 1,163 RBI, 905 runs scored, 2,125 hits and 416 doubles. In 1,942 games, he has played 840 games as a catcher, 843 as a designated hitter, and 213 at first base.
The Indians signed Martinez as an amateur free agent out of his native Venezuela in 1996. He played his first six seasons with the Indians, mainly behind the plate. He won his first of two Silver Slugger awards in 2004, sharing the award with the Tigers’ Ivan Rodriguez, and was voted to the All-Star team for the first of five times, three of them in an Indians’ uniform. He helped the Indians to a playoff defeat of the New York Yankees in 2007.
At the trade deadline in 2009, Martinez was dealt to the Boston Red Sox for three players, including pitcher Justin Masterson. There, he shared catching duties with Boston captain Jason Varitek and spent significant time at first base. He hit .313 with 28 home runs for the Red Sox in 775 plate appearances.
Prior to the 2011 season, Martinez signed a four year, $50 million contract with the Detroit Tigers. He was a member of Detroit’s four consecutive AL Central division titles, although he would miss the entire 2012 season after tearing his ACL while working out in Lakeland, Fla before the season. His injury led the Tigers to sign Prince Fielder to a nine-year contract.
Martinez had his best season in 2014, batting .335 with a .407 on-base percentage, and slugging .565 with 32 home runs. All were career highs. His .974 OPS led the major leagues. He would finish second in the AL MVP voting to the Angels’ Mike Trout, who was a unanimous selection that season. Martinez won his second Silver Slugger award, this time as a designated hitter.
The Tigers rewarded Martinez at age 34 with a new four-year contract after he famously bypassed his agent and made a direct appeal to Tigers owner Mike Ilitch. Martinez’s second four-year stretch with Detroit has not been nearly as productive. Although he batted .286 with 27 home runs and 86 RBI in 2016, he has missed time due to knee surgery in 2015, and a heart condition at the end of the 2017 season.
Martinez recorded his 200th home run in 2015, his 1,000th RBI in 2016, and his 2,000th hit in 2017. As a switch hitter, he has hit .300 against left-handed pitchers and .293 against righthanders. He remains one of the hardest hitters in the game to strike out.
Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire all but confirmed Martinez’s retirement.
“We know what’s happening here; he’s winding down,” Gardenhire said before Wednesday’s game. “These guys love him. ...Everybody in the dugout’s enjoying this because of his career and how much he really is into this, trying to help these guys out. He talks to these young guys all the time. He’s so, so much more important than the stats.”
The World Series has been elusive for Martinez throughout his career. He played for Cleveland when the Tigers went to the fall classic in 2006. He played for Boston when the New York Yankees won the championship in 2009. He missed the Tigers run to the Series in 2012 because of injury. Finally, he was a member of the Tigers when Cleveland won the American League pennant in 2016.
Martinez, who will be 40 years old in December, is married with three children — two daughters and a son who is known to Tiger fans as “Little Victor.” According to MLB.com, Martinez has made plans for his retirement, building a ranch in central Florida and he plans on raising livestock.
”I’ve been enjoying the whole year,” Martinez told reporters. “I told the guys: We have to enjoy it. We’re lucky just to be here in this room. We just have to enjoy it, because you never know where you’re going to be tomorrow.”