Victor Martinez’s season-ending knee injury puts the Tigers in the market for a veteran designated hitter and has some fans getting their hopes up for Prince Fielder, but general manager Dave Dombrowski threw cold water on that notion yesterday.
Angela Wittrock of MLive.com asked the GM about Fielder during the Tigers’ winter caravan tour and Dombrowski replied:
Of course we’d consider Prince Fielder, but realistically it’s probably not a good fit. We anticipate Victor Martinez coming back in 2013 and playing at the level he was at last season. I would just say the fit is really not there at this point.
Fielder might make sense as a Martinez replacement this season if the Tigers were willing to dramatically expand their payroll, but the problem is that Fielder will require a long-term deal and Martinez is owed $13 million this year, $13 million next year, and $12 million in 2014. And the Tigers also have first baseman Miguel Cabrera under contract for $86 million over the next four seasons.
José Bautista hasn’t appeared in the majors since 2018 but the 39-year-old isn’t done playing just yet. Last month, we learned via a report from ESPN’s Jeff Passan that Bautista is hoping to come back as a two-way player. He spent the winter working out as a pitcher.
Bautista had also been working with former Blue Jays teammate Marcus Stroman. Back in January, Stroman tweeted, “My bro @JoeyBats19 is nasty on the mound. We been working working. All jokes aside, this man can pitch in a big league bullpen. I’ll put my word on it!”
In March, Passan added some details about Bautista, writing, “I’ve seen video of Jose Bautista throwing a bullpen session. Couldn’t tell the velocity, but one source said he can run his fastball up to 94. His slider had legitimate tilt — threw a short one and a bigger bender. @STR0 said in January he could pitch in a big league bullpen.” Stroman retweeted it, adding, “Facts!”
Stroman reiterated his feelings on Tuesday. He tweeted, “Since y’all thought I wasn’t being serious when I said it the first time…my bro @JoeyBats19could EASILY pitch in a big league bullpen. Easily. Sinker, slider, and changeup are MLB ready!” Stroman attached a video of Bautista throwing a slider, in which one can hear Stroman calling the pitch “nasty.”
Stroman attached another video of Bautista throwing a glove-side sinker:
Replying to a fan, Stroman said Bautista’s body “is in better shape than 90-95% of the league.”
I am not a scout and won’t pretend to be one after watching two low-resolution videos. And Stroman’s hype is likely partially one friend attempting to uplift another. That being said, I’ve seen much worse from position players attempting to pitch. It’s a long shot, especially given his age, that Bautista will ever pitch in the majors, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see him get an opportunity to pitch in front of major league scouts.