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Re-signing Victor Martinez Keeps Focus on the Present for the Tigers

Victor Martinez’s new four-year deal with the Tigers means Detroit is still in win-now mode.

Victor Martinez

A few months ago when the Yankees offense was slumbering through an 84-win season, some columnists floated the idea of Victor Martinez joining the Yankees as a 36-year-old designated hitter.

Martinez will be a 36-year-old DH except he will be doing so for the Detroit Tigers. The Tigers were able to retain him by re-signing Martinez to a four-year, $68 million deal on Wednesday and while they overpaid or may not receive much bang for the buck on the back end of the deal, the Tigers are not concerned with what you think.

Perhaps they appreciate your concern but the Tigers have been consistent contenders for the last five years except for 2010. In 2009, they lost Game 163 to the Minnesota Twins, in 2011 they won 95 games and reached Game Six of the ALCS, in 2012 they were swept in the World Series, in 2013 they lost in Game Six of the ALCS and last year they were swept in the ALDS.

See a pattern here? That’s four good regular seasons without a World Series championship and since the Tigers have significant money invested in Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera, why would they start slowly tearing it down now?

The Tigers have other issues such as that bullpen but would have been missing a big piece had Martinez bolted. Despite being 35 last season, it was the most productive season of Martinez’s 12-year career.

It was a season where he carried the Tigers more so at times than Cabrera and when it ended, Martinez set career highs with 32 home runs, 188 hits, and a .335 average. That was the power and run production that Tigers were getting from Fielder and at a significantly lesser price.

He also was the first player since Albert Pujols in 2006 to have at least 30 home runs with 50 strikeouts or less. Martinez also was the oldest hitter to reach 30 home runs for the first time since Edgar Martinez in 2000.

Martinez is strictly a DH since suffering the torn ACL in his left knee in 2012, but like they say money doesn’t grow on trees, neither do designated hitters with that type of consistency. The best case is that Victor Martinez has a similar stat line that Edgar Martinez had during his ages 36 to 39 seasons.

During those seasons, Edgar Martinez batted .337, .324, .306 and .277. He also had 24, 37, 23 and 15 home runs. He played 142, 153, 132 and 97 games.

While the final year wasn’t great, the other three seasons were solid and that’s what the Tigers will take from this deal.

Of course if there’s a downside, it may ensure that Max Scherzer doesn’t return unless the Tigers are willing to give him more than $100 million. They were last season when he turned down a $144 million contract but are they willing to go beyond that figure?

The Tigers will likely deal with finding a replacement for Scherzer and then do it again next season when David Price hits free agency.

Of course there remains the possibility it becomes ugly for the Tigers and they become the American League version of the Philadelphia Phillies but when they’ve been this close for so many years with an aging owner, this was a move the Tigers wanted and needed to make.

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