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Tigers announce Victor Martinez signing, say he will serve chiefly as DH

11.26.10 at 10:31 am ET
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The Tigers made their signing of Victor Martinez to a four-year, $50 million deal official in a press release on Friday, with Detroit President, CEO and GM Dave Dombrowski heralding the arrival of “a premier hitter” who will slot into the middle of their lineup.

Interestingly, given the degree to which Martinez’ value is tied to his position, the Tigers have already stated that Martinez will serve primarily as a DH who also catches two to three times a week. From the release:

“We expect Victor to be in our lineup on a daily basis, serving primarily as our club’s designated hitter and catching two to three times a week,” Dombrowski said. “He also has the ability to fill in at first base and his versatility allows us to keep a premier bat in our lineup every day. We’ve discussed this role with Victor and both sides are very pleased with what he brings to the Tigers organization.”

Martinez’ ability to play different roles certainly possesses value. Indeed, it was part of what made him such an appealing and impactful acquisition for the Sox in 2009.

Still, if he is to serve primarily as their DH, he becomes a less valuable asset than he would as an everyday catcher. Finding a designated hitter who can add middle-of-the-order production — hello, Vladimir Guerrero — is a less daunting task than identifying a catcher who can do so. That is part of the reason why David Ortiz is viewed as being overpaid for the 2011 season, when he will be playing on a $12.5 million option. Certainly, Martinez retains some added value over a DH in his part-time catching role, but it is not quite as much value as was the case in 2010, when he was the Sox’ everyday catcher.

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