Bringing Victor Home
Danny Madden | On 23, Oct 2014
Today continues DTTWLN’s three week examination of the Indians’ 2014 season and where it fell short of the playoff expectations established last winter. The staff will examine where the season went wrong and the challenges the front office faces to make the Indians contenders in 2015.
Let’s take a trip down memory lane.
In 1996, the Indians signed a young catcher out of Venezuela. This switch hitting catcher would eventually go on to make his debut in the majors at the age of 23 and then never look back. He would eventually reach All-Star status, go to the World Series, and become the cornerstone of one of the most potent offenses in recent baseball history. This catcher would be none other than Victor Martinez, who will become a free agent this winter.
Martinez, 35, will be going into his second trip through free agency. His first time through granted him a contract with the Detroit Tigers for 4 years, 50 million dollars from 2011-2014. Now that the 2014 season has come to a close for the Tigers, Martinez will most likely be looking for a new home after having a career season and setting career records in hits, home runs, batting average, OBP, and OPS. The Tigers could offer him a qualifying offer, but if the past two seasons of this new CBA has shown anything it’s that no one wants to accept a qualifying offer. Well unless your name is Kendrys Morales or Stephen Drew, then you may have wanted to accept an offer last season.
Martinez started his career in the Indians system, and eventually debuted with them in 2002. He became a crucial part of the offense between then and 2009 when he was traded to Boston for Justin Masterson, Nick Hagadone, and Bryan Price. During his span in Cleveland, he made the All Star team three times, went to the ALCS, and became a respected member of the Cleveland community. He even cried when he was traded from Cleveland because he did not want to leave his beloved city. Why wouldn’t the city of Cleveland want Martinez to come back home?
As many Clevelander’s have come to realize though, just because we want something to happen, doesn’t mean it’s always going to. Sure, LeBron James came back home to the town that he grew up in, but it’s not going to be the same with Martinez. After having the season that he had in 2014, Martinez is looking to cash in this offseason. He’s likely only going to be looking for a two year deal as he has stated he doesn’t want to be playing in his forties. As he’s going to be 36 when the season starts, and with his history of knee issues, he’ll likely be mitigated to a DH only role. For the Indians, that position is currently being taken over by the likes of Nick Swisher, Ryan Raburn, and Zach Walters. Swisher being the biggest contributor of the position as he’s been booted out of his position at first after Carlos Santana took first base by reigns this season.
Besides the fact that Martinez wouldn’t have a defined position on this team, the Indians also will not be able to afford him. At the start of the off-season, the Indians will not have a whole lot of money to work with. They will still be holding on to two more years of Swisher and Michael Bourn. Swisher will be paid 15 million dollars while Bourn will be paid 13.5 million. Along with these monstrous contracts, the Indians also have long term contracts with Michael Brantley, Yan Gomes, Jason Kipnis, and Santana who will all be getting raises next season. Also, after all the arbitration cases that the Indians will need to go through, they’ll end up with roughly 10-12 million dollars to work with.
That won’t buy you Martinez.
The only possible way that Indians could get Martinez next season is if they somehow freed up some money via trades. The most logical piece to move to grab Martinez would be to trade Santana along with some other pieces that could possibly free up some cash. As Santana has become a permanent fixture at first base, he would have to be moved if the Indians hope to put Swisher in any other position than DH. If Swisher is moved from DH, then Martinez would have a somewhere to play. He could also play some first base as well as he played 35 games at first for the Tigers in 2014, but that is not likely.
With Santana owed only $6 million dollars in 2015, and having him see a growth in power from 2013, I don’t think Santana is going to be traded in any type of situation this winter. Thus, Martinez will not be coming back to Cleveland.
Even though Martinez is the exact type of player the Indians need on their team, the likelihood of his return is not looking so bright. With the low amount of spending money, and lack of position available for him, it just doesn’t fit the Indians bill to bring back Martinez. The Tribe will need to be creative this winter to help bolster the offense, but bringing back V-Mart will not be one of them.
Photo: Matt Sullivan/Getty Images