The Detroit Tigers' hopes of a return to the postseason could have endured a major hit this week.
The Tigers had the fourth most potent offense in terms of runs scored in the 2011 season. Coupled with a solid lineup and a strong rotation, the Tigers cruised through the AL Central en route to an ALCS appearance against the Texas Rangers.
While Miguel Cabrera is the most potent bat in the lineup, it could be argued that Victor Martinez was just as valuable to the Tigers' production.
The Tigers offense improved from 11th in runs scored in 2010, with Martinez being the only major addition. Individually, Martinez hit .330 with 12 home runs and 103 RBI.
Martinez's injury will no doubt lead to speculation of the Tigers pursuing the highest profile free agent still available—Prince Fielder.
Prior to Martinez's injury, Detroit was never seen as a destination for Fielder due to the logjam at first base and designated hitter.
The Tigers freed up nearly $23 million this offseason when the contracts of former stars Magglio Ordonez and Carlos Guillen expired—perhaps money that could be used to sign Fielder.
While names like Carlos Pena and Derek Lee are also possibilities, expect GM Dave Dombrowski to at least speak with the Fielder camp about an attractive deal for both sides.
Ultimately, unless the Tigers can sway him on a one-year rental, any deal for Fielder would likely hinge on the long-term prognosis for Martinez, who is 33 and is signed through 2014.
A signing of Prince Fielder by the Tigers would have additional significance since his father, Cecil Fielder, was an All-Star for the Tigers in the early 1990s, with the younger Fielder being a locker room mainstay.