Indians Ink Kratz, Martinez to Minor League Deals
Bob Toth | On 02, Dec 2016
The Cleveland Indians announced on Thursday the addition of two free agents on minor league contracts with invites to spring training in February.
Utility man Michael Martinez, who was outrighted to Triple-A Columbus on November 23 after spending a chunk of the season and all of the playoffs on the Indians roster, will return to the organization for a third season. Catcher Erik Kratz also joined the club on the minor league tender.
Martinez, 34, started the 2016 season at Triple-A Columbus but found his way to the Cleveland roster during the year. The switch-hitter batted .283 in 32 games through July 1, but was designated for assignment and later was purchased by the Boston Red Sox. He played sparingly with the Sox through the second half of July, appearing in four games and making one start while going 1-for-6 at the plate before he was designated for assignment. The Indians claimed him on waivers and kept him on the roster through the remainder of the season.
Martinez also split time between Cleveland and Columbus in 2015. He worked in 16 games that season, hitting .267 in limited playing time. He previously was a member of the Washington Nationals, Philadelphia Phillies, and Pittsburgh Pirates organizations.
As he did this past season, he can provide the Indians with depth at the minor league level at several different positions, including all three outfield spots and three infield positions, while providing the parent club with a security blanket at multiple positions.
Kratz, 36, is as well-traveled of a journeyman catcher as they come. The Indians become his sixth organization in the 2016 calendar year.
Kratz began his season with the San Diego Padres organization but was traded at the end of spring training to the Houston Astros. He lasted two months with Houston before being released. He signed with the Los Angeles Angels later in May, but after two weeks he was purchased by the Pittsburgh Pirates. He hit the free agent market again just after the All-Star break and re-signed with the team that drafted him back in 2002, the Toronto Blue Jays, the third time in his career he joned the ball club.
For the season in stints with Houston and Pittsburgh, Kratz hit .094 (8-for-85) in 33 games. In an odd side note, he also made a pair of relief appearances, posting a 4.50 ERA in two innings of work, making one appearance for the Astros and one for the Pirates. During his seven-year Major League career, Kratz has appeared with the Pirates, Astros, Blue Jays, the Philadelphia Phillies, and the Kansas City Royals.
He will come to camp with an opportunity to audition for a role in the Tribe’s catching crew, already crowded with Yan Gomes and Roberto Perez on the Major League roster and Guillermo Quiroz coming to camp on minor league contracts. Adam Moore, who appeared with the Indians briefly in September, is also on the roster of the Clippers.
The additions of Martinez and Kratz gives the Indians four players coming to spring camp on non-roster invites, joining the previous acquisition Quiroz and outfielder Daniel Robertson.
Photo: Joe Sargent/Getty Images