Detroit’s status as the AL Central favorites has taken a big hit before the Tigers even arrived at spring training, as designated hitter/catcher Victor Martinez suffered a torn ACL in his left knee during offseason conditioning.
No decision has been yet made regarding surgery, but if Martinez needs to go under the knife he’d likely miss the entire 2012 season.
Alex Avila is entrenched as the Tigers’ starting catcher and Martinez was unlikely to be more than an emergency option behind the plate anyway, so certainly replacing a designated hitter is much easier than replacing a catcher. He hit .330 with 12 homers, 40 doubles, and an .850 OPS in 145 games last season and is a career .303 hitter with an .840 OPS.
Some potential fill-in options include Carlos Pena, Derrek Lee, Casey Kotchman, Johnny Damon, and Hideki Matsui, but it’s unclear how much room the Tigers have in their payroll–or what their insurance situation is like–and Martinez is under contract for $13 million this season, $13 million in 2013, and $12 million in 2014.
Former Tigers infielder Casey McGehee has reportedly signed a one-year deal with the Yomiuri Giants of Nippon Professional Baseball, according to FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal.
It’s the fourth move the corner infielder has made in the last two seasons after seeing short-term stints with the Marlins, Giants and Tigers. He signed a minor league deal with the Tigers prior to the 2016 season, providing the club with some infield depth behind 24-year-old Nick Castellanos. When Castellanos hit the disabled list in August with a broken hand, McGehee was recalled from Triple-A Toledo for a 30-game stint and slashed .228/.260/.239 with one extra-base hit in 96 PA. His career batting line (.258/.317/.384 over eight seasons) isn’t too shabby, but his age and a long history of knee injuries puts a damper on his potential.
McGehee last appeared in the NPB circuit in 2013, when he signed a one-year, $1.5 million deal with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles. He spent the bulk of his season at the hot corner, batting an impressive .292/.396/.515 with 28 homers in 590 PA and appearing in the Eagles’ first and only championship run to date.
The deal comes with a club option for 2018, Rosenthal reports, though no figure has been specified.
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.