Plenty of options as Tigers seek a replacement for Victor Martinez
If Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski goes outside the organization to find a replacement for Victor Martinez, he’ll have no shortage of options. From Johnny Damon and Carlos Pena to Bobby Abreu and Raul Ibanez, the free-agent market is flooded with veterans still on the market.
At this point, there are bargains to be had, and the Tigers offer a nice situation because they remain a solid favorite to win the American League Central for a second straight year. Who wouldn’t want to be in a lineup with Miguel Cabrera and Delmon Young and Jhonny Peralta?
Here are some possibilities:
Vladimir Guerrero: He’s 36 years old and but coming off a decent season in which he batted .290 and hit 13 home runs for the Orioles. He also brings some of V-Mart’s leadership qualities. The Rangers raved about his intangibles when he helped them win the American League pennant in 2010. The gamble will be in knowing what he has left in the tank. If the Tigers are looking for lineup protection for Cabrera, he’s probably not the right guy for the job.
Then again, no one else is. Cabrera is on the short list of baseball’s best hitters, right there with Albert Pujols and a few others. I’m not sure there’s such a thing as lineup protection for a hitter as respected as Cabrera. He’s one of the guys opposing managers circle and say, “Let’s let anyone except him beat us.”
Johnny Damon: He spent the 2010 season with the Tigers, so they know all about his leadership and maturity and all that stuff. That 2010 was one of his least productive seasons in the big leagues, and at 38, he’s probably not going to get a lot better. But he did hit 16 homers for Tampa Bay last season, so there’s that.
Raul Ibanez: Like Damon, Ibanez is a left-handed bat, which probably is a priority behind right-handed hitting Delmon Young and Miguel Cabrera. He’s 39 years old, but coming off a 20-home run season. Could be a good fit.
Derrek Lee: He’s a right-handed hitter, but a productive one. He’s 36 and coming off a 19-home run season split between the Orioles and Pirates last season. He, too, has a very solid clubhouse presence and would fit nicely in a winning culture.
Magglio Ordonez: Health is an issue after he suffered a fractured right ankle in Game 1 of the ALCS. It’s also unclear how much he has left in the tank. His batting average has declined for four straight seasons, and at 37, he batted just .255 last season. His power is no more.
Carlos Lee: The Astros would pick up a large chunk of the $18.5 million he’s owed. Even in decline, he’s still a productive offensive hitter, having batted .275 last season with 18 home runs and 94 RBIs.
Also on the list: Pat Burrell, Eric Chavez, J.D. Drew, Hideki Matsui and Cody Ross.