The Detroit Tigers have signed free agent catcher/first baseman Victor Martinez to a four-year, $50 million deal.
Martinez spent last season as a Boston Red Sox and had a productive year swinging the bat. He hit .302 with 20 home runs and finished with 79 RBI in 127 games.
Detroit had high expectations heading into the season, but they didn't pan out, as the Tigers finished third in the AL Central with an 81-81 mark.
The signing of Martinez is going to bolster the lineup and give Miguel Cabrera some much-needed help. But will it be enough in a division the Minnesota Twins seem to have a firm hold of year in and year out?
That's something to be discussed for another time. One thing is for sure, and that is Martinez can swing the bat. The problem is his defense. He's 31 years old and has never been very good behind the plate. If he starts more games at DH and first base, then his value takes a hit.
The length and dollar amount of this deal aren't a problem. Martinez should be a productive hitter over the next four years, and he's been relatively healthy for most of his career. The problem with this deal, more than anything, is the Tigers' mindset.
They gave up the ninth most runs last season and scored the 11th most. Common logic would say to invest in help for the starting rotation or bullpen. But instead, they've chosen to spend their money on a guy who, near the end of this deal, will primarily be used as a DH or at first base.
All of that's fine except Cabrera is already locked in at first base and the DH spot, which means this deal ultimately hinges on how effective V-Mart is behind the plate. Martinez's numbers look good among catchers, but when put up next to DHs and other first basemen, they aren't nearly as eye-popping.
The other catcher on the roster is Alex Avila, who hit .228 last year and is a superior defender to Martinez. Unless Avila drastically raises his average and becomes a much more productive offensive catcher, the Tigers are going to have to rely on Martinez to carry the load as the backstop.
Once again, the length and dollar amount of this deal seem about right, but does this move propel the Tigers to the top of the AL Central?
If anything, it's going to be the pitching staff that turns things around for Detroit and not the offense.
Tiger fans can rejoice at management's commitment to spending money to improve the team. Fans now just have to ask how much better their team is with this latest signing.