Heyman: Dombrowski didn’t favor V-Mart contract terms
Most of the October notes around baseball deal with either postseason teams or managerial changes. Within Jon Heyman’s notes for CBSSports.com, however, was a tidbit on the Tigers from last offseason:
It can be told now: Then-GM Dave Dombrowski was not in favor of $68 million for four years for Victor Martinez. It was owner Mike Ilitch’s call to make sure to bring back V-Mart.
Later in the notes, Heyman notes that the Mariners’ bid for Martinez last fall was a three-year, $45 million offer. Seattle moved on to sign Nelson Cruz to a four-year, $57 million deal.
A disagreement on Martinez would not be a big surprise. Ilitch has consistently been loyal to players who have won for him, picking up the option year on Ivan Rodriguez’s deal in 2008 and re-signing Magglio Ordonez for 2011. When the Tigers formally announced Martinez’s deal last November, there was this quote from Ilitch, who made a rare appearance at the press conference:
“Victor, you had a fantastic year,” Ilitch recalled telling him. “You played great. You showed good sportsmanship. You never seemed to lose your cool. I’m going to take care of you next year.”
In that same story, there was also this quote from Dombrowski:
“It was a situation where, talking to Mr. I again, he said, ‘We need to get this done,’ which we did.”
Martinez, of course, had a lot more leverage last fall coming off the best offensive season of his career and a free-agent market that did not have an abundance of elite hitters. The Mariners and Blue Jays made a push before the Tigers raised their offer just before the GM meetings ended last November. Still, it raises the question of what the alternative would’ve been had the Tigers not stretched their terms and Martinez had signed somewhere else. Besides Cruz, Kendrys Morales was on the market before signing a two-year, $17 million deal with Kansas City, while Billy Butler signed a three-year, $30 million contract with Oakland.
Martinez’s first season under the new deal went awry when he tore his meniscus playing catch at his house a few weeks before Spring Training. He made it back, but never seemed at full strength, falling from a league-leading .974 OPS in 2014 to .667 this year. He now faces the challenge of getting back to healthy form with his 37th birthday coming up just before Christmas.