During a recent Boston radio appearance Peter Gammons predicted that the Red Sox will not re-sign Victor Martinez and speculated that the switch-hitting catcher will end up signing with the Tigers as a free agent this offseason.
Gammons speculated that Detroit will give Martinez a four- or five-year contract, adding: “I don’t think anybody else is going to give him four or five years to be a catcher.”
And they shouldn’t. Martinez is a very good hitter, batting .300 with an OPS above .840 in five of the past six seasons, but he’s also 32 years old, has never been considered particularly good behind the plate, and has thrown out just 19 percent of stolen base attempts in the past two seasons. His odds of being a catcher in 2013 or 2014 seem pretty slim, and while his hitting is very good it’s hardly elite for a first baseman or designated hitter.
Martinez is a Type A free agent, so in order to sign him the Tigers would lose their first-round pick, which is 19th overall. Anything in the top 15 picks is protected and would involve Boston receiving a second-round pick instead, so if they’re going to lose Martinez as a free agent his landing in Detroit would be one of the better scenarios.
Free agent left-hander Rich Hill is rumored to be entertaining a three-year, $40+ million offer from the Dodgers, reports Peter Gammons. The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo corroborated the report, adding that Hill could receive somewhere between $46 and $48 million from his former team.
Hill, 36, pitched to a 2.12 ERA and 3.91 FIP in back-to-back stints with the Athletics and Dodgers in 2016. While a chronic case of blisters on his pitching hand limited the frequency of his starts, he still figures to be one of the most productive and noteworthy starting pitchers on the market this winter.
The Orioles, Yankees, Red Sox, Rangers and Astros have all been mentioned as potential suitors for the left-hander’s services, though Orioles’ GM Dan Duquette said the club has yet to make a play for Hill and ESPN’s Jim Bowden pointed out that the Red Sox are less involved in trade talks than other interested parties.
In light of the Astros’ deal for veteran designated hitter Carlos Beltran on Saturday, the Yankees are thought to be intensifying their pursuit of free agent Edwin Encarnacion, reports Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. The Yankees never made an official offer to Beltran, but remain in need of a DH/first baseman to give them a little more power outside of a Tyler Austin–Greg Bird combo in 2017.
The Red Sox, on the other hand, are reportedly withdrawing their interest when it comes to the Encarnacion sweepstakes. According to FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman, they will look for a hitter to beef up their lineup without taking a “big plunge” on the 34-year-old.
Encarnacion enjoyed another All-Star run with the Blue Jays in 2016, hitting at a .263/.357/.529 clip with 42 homers and a league-leading 127 RBI in 702 PA. He’s expected to command a significant contract in free agency, and agent Paul Kinzer said that a potential deal is unlikely to be finalized before the Winter Meetings as Encarnacion is not close to agreeing to any offer. Interested teams include the Blue Jays and the Astros, though Beltran’s signing appears to have effectively taken Houston out of the running for the slugger.