Paul Wezner, Executive Editor
Given the Tigers need for a middle of the order bat and the opportunity to get Victor Martinez signed early on in the free agent period, I think this was absolutely the right move for the Tigers. Getting a quality bat for the middle of the order was absolutely imperative, and Martinez being a switch-hitting catcher just helps the team check off a couple more boxes. It also has the added value of coming at a relative discount compared to what the other top free agent bats are currently asking for and likely would have cost the Tigers, allowing them the financial flexibility to still possibly add another bat that will play right field for the team. I also think the Tigers plan to have him spend most of the time at designated hitter while occasionally catching is a great one. Having him continue to catch most days would simply accelerate the physical decline that happens to all players as they reach their 30's, but even moreso to catchers because of the demands of the position. And the Tigers aren't paying him for his glove, they're paying him for his bat for the next four years, so they need to do everything possible to ensure that they'll have that quality bat at their disposal.
Mark Anderson, Managing Editor
I think the addition of Victor Martinez to the Tigers roster is a very significant one, and a move I like a lot as both a fan and an analyst. His catching woes are overblown by many, but I am fine with him catching only a couple of days a week and primarily serving as the team's designated hitter. He can be in the lineup everyday in some fashion or another, and he could hit either third or fifth, depending on the other moves of the club. He certainly provides the team with the legitimate middle of the order bat they were looking to add at least one of this winter. One thing that shouldn't be overlooked in this signing, and it may seem cliche, is Martinez's ability as a leader. He has fantastic makeup and leadership ability, and he has a reputation for working extremely well with his pitching staff. Alex Avila equitted himself well last year working with the staff, but it never hurts to have him continue learning from someone like Martinez. In a vaccum, this signing is a great move for the organization on several fronts, but it won't be enough on its own to make the Tigers serious threats for the Central Division crown or anything beyond that.
Jason Avery, Associate Editor, Amateur Baseball
I'm fine with the Tigers' signing of Victor Martinez. They needed a big bat in the middle of the order, and Martinez certainly fits the bill. What makes this signing even bigger is that the Tigers were able to land him despite having other teams chasing him, and they didn't grossly over pay for his services. When you go back to when the Tigers signed Pudge Rodriguez and Magglio Ordonez, they had to sign those players on their terms to have any chance of landing that caliber of player. But with the signing of Martinez, perhaps it's a signal that other players will seriously consider Detroit when they reach free agency, rather than having it serve as a fallback option or no option at all. As for Martinez being a DH, it's a good way to phase Alex Avila in as the everyday catcher, and with Martinez not catching most days, it should make him better health-wise throughout the duration of the contract rather than being worn down more as he ages due to the rigors of playing the position. Considering the Tigers signed Martinez for roughly half the money that the other big-name free agents bats will likely get, this was a solid signing for the team.
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