By: Kurt Snyder
Totally Tigers has to put a hat in the ring on a particular topic. It’s a topic, but it’s also a rumor. And at this point in the Hot Stove League when there is very little player movement, site after site after site can only respond to rumors with their opinions about how much merit they have.
But we can’t get too caught up in rumor. What we can do is speak to moves that are the wisest in this off-season of transition for Detroit. And without a doubt, finding a taker for Victor Martinez would be an absolute godsend. It’s also never going to happen.
This past season, baseball said goodbye to David Ortiz; another former member of the-soon-to-be extinct (unless you’re the Tigers) full-time DH position. The full-time DH is finding its way out of the game. The role has certainly done its job in offering aging players the opportunity to prolong their careers. Players with big bats but not much else have still contributed big and starred in that role.
But these players with only a bat to offer their teams are making too much money and limiting team flexibility. And with the Tigers, we all know we would love to see Miguel Cabrera in that spot much more than we do, which right now is almost never.
Sure, Miggy is still able to effectively play in the field. In fact, he plays a pretty darn good first base. So, he’s not a candidate for full-time DH anytime soon.
But I have to ask. How long will the Tigers gamble with Miggy? Will the Tigers have to wait for VMart’s contract to expire before Cabrera assumes that role for close to half the season? Yeah, that’s right. Half the season. It’s a big step, I know. But he is going to be a Tiger for a long time (that’s right, don’t look for any big deal involving Miggy) and it is the franchise’s responsibility to preserve their biggest investment.
Rumors are aplenty about teams showing interest in VMart. It’s exciting to hear actually. It’s surprising to hear. But I can’t find it in myself to believe any of it.
As much as I believe that unloading Victor would be one of the shrewdest of moves the Tigers could make in the interests of their bottom line, it is also the toughest of tasks. To me, you’re asking for another Prince Fielder type trade.
Victor has been reduced to a brittle player. He can still hit, but running is hard work for him and scoring with him on the bases is difficult. I hate to talk about VMart like this. He has been a great Tiger. The hardest of workers. Intensity and fire embodies him more than most in the Tiger dugout. But he is holding this team back. And unfortunately, this information is no secret to the rest of the league.
So what do the Tigers do assuming VMart stays in Detroit? Well, first they need to dispel the notion that he is the only player who can hit behind Miggy. I haven’t been given a good reason to believe that to be the case. Victor has to move down in the lineup just so 2 of their slowest baserunners aren’t hitting back-to-back.
Secondly, Victor has to sit more. I understand he is a switch hitter. I understand he makes big $18M bank. But he’s got to sit in the interests of transitioning Miggy more and more into the DH role. Who plays first base in those situations? Sounds like a good roster addition to consider.
Dave Dombrowski pulled the biggest rabbit out of his hat when he magically found a team to take Prince Fielder off their hands, and receive Ian Kinsler in return. It was by far one of the most unlikely and lopsided deals a team has ever made.
Now we sit here asking the Tigers to do something similar. And it’s a stretch. The Tigers are better off spending their time and energy establishing a diminished role for Victor. It would be best for all involved, including VMart himself.