The Detroit Tigers were dealt a serious blow to their World Series chances in 2012, with the news that they will most likely be without Victor Martinez for the entire 2012 MLB season due to a torn ACL in his left knee in his offseason conditioning. After reaching the ALCS in 2011, Detroit was expected to contend for a pennant once again this year, but that task just became much more of a challenge with the loss of Martinez for the majority, if not all, of the upcoming season.
If Detroit still intends to be an elite team in the American League, they must do something to replace Martinez. The Tigers’ offense will not be productive enough with the proper protection for Miguel Cabrera in their lineup. They do not have to act rashly to replace V-Mart, but they will have to consider all options going forward.
With that being said, could option No. 1 be a still unsigned mega free agent in Prince Fielder?
While the odds are highly against it, you can never bet against Dave Dombrowski.
The Tigers’ GM has a history of pulling off big deals. And while this would seem highly unlikely at best, Tigers’ fans must be salivating at the possibility of a lineup with Fielder and Cabrera as the team’s No. 3 and 4 hitters.
It would be phenomenal.
Without Martinez for 2012, the Tigers will need to seek a replacement.
But the odds of it happening are still close to astronomical. While it is fun to think about in Motown, the Tigers will most likely go in a different direction if they do indeed decide to go outside the organization to replace Martinez in their batting order.
Simply put, Detroit probably cannot replace Martinez’s production and leadership with just one person, especially if they stay in-house. While players such as Ryan Raburn, Don Kelly and Ramon Santiago are versatile enough to help fill the void on a rotating basis, they can not make up for the numbers at the plate. Sure, from time to time, they will come through with big hits. They have done it throughout their careers.
But when you ask players such as the ones mentioned above to carry a much bigger workload, the results rarely turn out to be like the ones you desire.
But whereas Martinez is expected to make a full recovery after surgery, Dombrowski is most likely looking at this as a quick fix for the short term. He will not rule out anything in terms of signing a free agent or acquiring one via trade, but it is not likely that he will look at a large contract with multiple years remaining.
That would eliminate Fielder, in all likelihood. But it would not rule out some other possibilities.
Detroit would prefer to replace a lefty with a lefty, meaning the first name that come to mind could be former Tigers’ outfielder and designated hitter, Johnny Damon. Damon would prefer to sign with a team who will give him the most at-bats as he looks to reach 3,000 career hits, and Detroit could now be in that situation. Damon could also return to the Tampa Bay Rays or even consider going back to the New York Yankees, but one could argue that the Tigers now make the most sense, meaning Detroit could offer the most lucrative contract offer.
Another decent option could be free agent first baseman Carlos Pena, who could fill the void as a left handed power hitter. His batting average will be nowhere near .300 like Martinez put up last season, but he could double his home run output of 24 if he remained healthy.
If Detroit passes on Damon and Pena, other names that they could speak with include Vladimir Guererro, Hideki Matsui, and Casey Kotchman, or they could bring back either Magglio Ordonez or Carlos Guillen.
Either way, expect the team to do something, but they will not act rashly and throw a ton of money at the first free agent who contacts them about their sudden void. They have the luxury of playing in a watered down A.L. Central, meaning they could very well take a wait-and-see approach once the season begins.