Nothing particularly new here, but with the recent extension handed out to Joe Mauer and the start of the season just one day away, there’s a very good chance that Victor Martinez will be the premiere catcher on the free agent market this winter.
Consistent with what he has said all spring, Martinez told Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald on Friday that he doesn’t want to negotiate a contract extension during the season.
“During the season, I really have enough to worry about, just playing
the game,” Martinez said. “I don’t want any distraction.”
It would appear that the Red Sox should have a sense of urgency to re-sign Martinez, but Lauber does a pretty good job of playing devil’s advocate. Martinez isn’t viewed as a particularly strong defensive catcher — Driveline Mechanics has him somewhere in the middle of the pack — as he threw out just 13.8 percent of baserunners last season.
Also, although Martinez is expected to be the primary backstop in Boston this season, remember that he’ll turn 32 in December, meaning that his future is likely at first base or designated hitter. Translate his offensive output behind the plate to first base and while he’s still very good, he’s not nearly as impressive as say, Ryan Howard, who will be a free agent after the 2011 season.
In turn, Martinez told Rob Bradford of WEEI.com that he doesn’t need assurances of staying behind the plate as part of his next contract:
“I don’t think I’m going to have to say that,” Martinez said. “I’ll just
play where they need me to play. I just want to help my team win every
night. If my body lets me catch, I’ll be more than happy to do it. I
really like the position and I prepare myself to catch every day.”
Martinez has repeatedly said that he doesn’t want to switch teams yet again — being traded from Cleveland left the man in tears — but interest in a contract extension shouldn’t be a foregone conclusion, even from the Red Sox perspective.
It was only a matter of time before Mike Trout courted another all-time record, and on Saturday, he found himself in elite company with his 25th and 26th home runs of the season. He put the Angels on the board with a 429-foot blast in the first inning, depositing an 0-1 fastball from the Orioles’ Kevin Gausman into the left field bleachers:
In the third inning, with the Angels up 2-1, Trout returned to tack on another insurance run. He targeted Gausman’s slider for his second solo shot of the evening and cleared the center field fence with a 418-footer to bring his total to 26 home runs on the year.
Trout has mashed at a staggering .339/.471/.596 clip since his return from the disabled list last month, and Saturday’s totals helped mark his sixth consecutive season with at least 25 home runs. That’s a record few have matched before their age-26 season; in fact, only Hall of Fame sluggers Eddie Mathews and Frank Robinson have ever pulled it off.
Assuming he continues to rake in hits and plate appearances over the last six weeks of the regular season — and there’s nothing to indicate that he won’t — Trout is in line to join elite company of a different kind. The 26-year-old entered Saturday’s game with a 206 OPS+ (park-adjusted on-base plus slugging). According to MLB.com’s Matt Kelly, that means Trout’s hitting at a better clip than the average Major League player by a full 106 percent. Should he finish the year with a 200 OPS+ and 502 plate appearances or better, he’ll be the first player to do so since Barry Bonds obliterated the competition with his 263 OPS+ in 2004.
The Blue Jays acquired right-hander Tom Koehler from the Marlins in exchange for minor league right-hander Osman Gutierrez and cash considerations, the clubs announced Saturday. Koehler is in his sixth year with the Marlins and stands to make $5.75 million in 2017. He’ll be arbitration eligible in 2018 and is set to enter free agency by 2019.
The 31-year-old right-hander struggled to a 7.92 ERA, 4.7 BB/9 and 7.1 SO/9 over 55 2/3 innings with Miami in 2017. He was optioned to Triple-A New Orleans in late July, where he rebounded with a 1-1 record in seven starts and whittled his ERA down to a 1.67 mark. The Blue Jays have yet to establish Koehler’s role within their organization, but are hoping to see a turnaround from the righty when he breaks back into the big leagues.
Gutierrez, 22, was assigned to Single-A Greensboro on Saturday. He has yet to find his footing in the minors, and exited a 78-inning stint with Single-A Lansing after racking up a career-worst 7.85 ERA and 8.2 SO/9. His lack of control is particularly alarming, with a 6.2 BB/9 that dwarfs the 2.0+ BB/9 of seasons past, but he still has plenty of time to figure out his mechanics before reaching the Show.