(CBS) — Who is Victor Martinez and why are the Chicago White Sox making him a priority as he approaches free agent status this fall?
The Tigers’ DH has been the center of attention for major-league scouts, who are looking to define their off-season pursuit of talent for next year.
On a team that has arguably the best hitter in baseball (Miguel Cabrera), Martinez has been the top run producer on the Tigers. He has been “The Man,” while protecting Cabrera and the top of Detroit’s batting order.
“You see Victor hitting behind Cabrera — it really catches your attention ,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “He is a very smart hitter and you see the thought process he goes through for an at-bat. He is on most pitches. He is about the same left- or right-handed. ”
he Tigers will do their best to hold on to Martinez, but their payroll and the escalating costs of doing business in a middle market like Detroit probably means the 35-year-old player may be moving on. The White Sox will have the payroll flexibility, with almost $25 million coming off their payroll with the retirement of Paul Konerko ; the trade of Gordon Beckham and not resigning Adam Dunn.
Martinez brings a heck of a lot more to the party than just a potent, switch-hitting bat. Baseball people believe Martinez will be sought after for his makeup and personality, as much as his hitting skills. When scouts talk about Martinez, they say he is one of the great “crossover” players in the game. A crossover guy is considered a player who has the unique personal skills to communicate with all ethnic groups that comprise most big-league clubhouses.
Former teammate Avisail Garcia is hoping that the White Sox are successful in bringing his former Detroit friend and adviser to the South Side of Chicago in 2015.
“He is great person and great player,” Garcia said. “He always would take the time to talk to me about how hard it is to be a good baseball player. He would say to me, ‘You must be positive and consistent through good times and bad.’”
What makes Martinez the perfect guy for a team like the rebuilding White Sox ? He would be a power-hitter to protect Jose Abeu and in front of the emerging Garcia.
According to a major league source, Martinez for all the reasons mentioned above will be at the top of the White Sox list of free agents they target this fall. Along with Chicago and Detroit, Seattle and Kansas City will likely be in pursuit of this exceptional competitor. Martinez enters this series with the White Sox hitting .327 with 26 home runs and 85 RBI.
The Tigers DH is making $12 million in the final year of a four-year, $50 million contract. Playing at age 36 will not stop Martinez from asking for three years when he declares free-agent status this November.