The Tigers found the hitter who can protect Miguel Cabrera in the lineup
with their Victor Martinez signing. But just because Martinez can fill
the job, doesn’t mean that he will.
Jim Leyland said Friday afternoon that he’s up in the air whether to bat
Martinez third or fifth. The reason for the indecisiveness is that the
offseason moves are potentially incomplete.
“It depends on what our team looks like by the time we get to Spring
Training,” Leyland said by phone. “He’s either going to hit right in
front of [Cabrera] or right behind him.”
Asked if the fact that Martinez is a switch-hitter will play into the decision, Leyland came up with the line of the day.
“No, the fact that he’s a great hitter,” Leyland said.
Dave Dombrowski didn’t give a firm answer either way when asked if they
have the wiggle room for one more signing — which pretty much should mean
they have room. If they knew they were up against it on payroll, there
would be no reason to play coy. Whether they have the realistic potential to
compete on another big free agent, such as Carl Crawford or Jayson
Werth, is another question. So is the potential for bringing back
Magglio Ordonez, which Dombrowski didn’t want to address Friday.
He did indicate that the one area where they have the opening for an addition is in the corner outfield.
“We’ve actually made four signings this wintertime, so I think what
we’ll probably do next week is sit back [and analyze],” Dombrowski said.
— Jason Beck
The Twins have been identified as the team submitting the high bid for Japanese shortstop Tsuyoshi Nishioka, who had been posted by the Chiba Lotte Marines according to rules between MLB and Nippon Professional Baseball.
The Pirates have traded Zach Duke to the Diamondbacks for a player to be named later, the club announced on Wednesday.
Duke had been designated for assignment on Friday, which gave the Pirates a 10-day window to trade the left-hander. He would have become a free agent if Pittsburgh had not made a deal.
Pittsburgh removed Duke from the 40-man roster after deciding that the club would not tender him a contract. The starter was to be arbitration eligible for the third time this offseason and was likely to see his $4.3 million salary increase to around $5 million.
Duke, who was selected by the Pirates in the 20th round of the ’01 First-Year Player Draft, ends his tenure in Pittsburgh with a 45-70 record and 4.54 ERA in 160 games (159 starts). He went 8-15 with a 5.72 ERA last season.
— Jenifer Langosch
The Cubs are in pursuit of a first baseman this offseason and one option could be Lance Berkman. He told FoxSports.com that the Cubs are one of the teams that has inquired about him. Berkman said the A’s have been the “most aggressive” in terms of contact. He would like to return to the National League, which would work in the Cubs’ favor. He made $14.5 million last season and would have to accept less money to sign with the Cubs.
Berkman, who will be 35 on Feb. 10, said he was limited in 2010 after arthroscopic surgery to clean out his left knee.
“I’m probably viewed as a declining player,” Berkman told FoxSports.com. “I don’t blame teams for thinking like that. But I don’t view myself that way. If I was to honestly assess where I’m at, I feel like last year was the result of me being hurt.
“My knee was hurt all year. The kind of injury I had prevented me from using my legs when I hit. In my mind, I can scratch that off and say that I’ll be healthy next year, be the player I was prior to the 2009 season. That’s kind of how I’m looking at it.
“Obviously, I’ve got to get an opportunity,” he said. “I’ve got to go out there and prove it.”
— Carrie Muskat
The arbitration deadline was expected to rule the day, but
it wound up being the Tigers that made the big splash. In a rather surprising
turn of events in this offseason, coveted free-agent catcher Victor Martinez
said no to the Red Sox and wound up agreeing to a four-year,
$50 million contract with the Tigers.
The agreement, which a baseball source confirmed to MLB.com, is probably still pending a
physical and should be completed shortly.
At that point, the Tigers would officially be able to add Martinez to a middle
of the lineup that includes fellow Venezuelan Miguel Cabrera.
Here’s more from around the league Tuesday …
* After a bounce-back year that saw him make $3 million, Aubrey Huff inked
a two-year contract reportedly worth $22 million with the Giants. The
deal also includes a club option for 2013.
* Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towers told MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert that
of all the clubs expressing interest in outfielder Justin Upton, only
“two or three” teams have the players to make a deal work. Towers
says he seeks Major League-ready players in return, not just prospects.
* The Yankees prefer to give standout free-agent closer Mariano Rivera
just a one-year deal worth upwards of $18 million, according to Yahoo! Sports.
But Rivera, 41 next week, seeks two guaranteed years at that rate.
* As for the Yankees’ other aging pitcher, Andy Pettitte is leaning towards a return to the Bronx, according to the Twitter account of Newsday’s Kevin Davidoff.
* And as for the free-agent pitcher the Yankees hope to land, an industry source told Yahoo! Sports on Monday that New York offered Cliff Lee a six-year contract worth nearly $140 million. But Lee seeks a seventh year.
* Jarrod Washburn, the 36-year-old left-hander who sat out all of last season, “continues to generate interest as a free agent,” according to Yahoo! Sports. The Brewers are believed to be one of the teams that have contacted his agent.
* Arbitration Day is in full swing. So far, Jayson Werth, Adam Dunn, Adrian Beltre and Paul Konerko have been among the ranked free agents being offered arbitration, while Derek Jeter, Mike Lowell, Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon have been among those who have not. The deadline is 11:59 p.m. ET.
— Alden Gonzalez