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April 7, 2011

In retrospect, should the Orioles have signed Victor Martinez?

I had a chance to talk briefly Wednesday with Detroit’s Victor Martinez, a couple hours before he had a double, single and homer in the Tigers’ 7-3 win against the Orioles at Camden Yards.

Martinez, if you remember, was the Orioles’ No. 1 target this winter. They offered him $48 million over four years to be their everyday first baseman, but instead he took the Tigers’ four-year, $50 million contract.

“I really appreciated the amount of interest the Orioles had in me,” Martinez said. “It was a pretty tough decision.”

Really, the deck was stacked against the Orioles getting Martinez. The Tigers have won more recently, they are in a division that isn’t as deep, they gave him more of an opportunity to catch and several of Detroit’s team leaders are fellow Venezuelans.

There’s also the fact that the Tigers train each spring in Lakeland, which isn’t that far from his home in Orlando. And, yes, the bottom line is Detroit also offered more money.

Eventually, the Orioles found the help they needed from the right side of the plate (Martinez is a switch-hitter) by trading for J.J. Hardy and Mark Reynolds and signing Derrek Lee and Vladimir Guerrero.

Martinez, 32, is a career .300 hitter in more than 1,000 games played. He’s also just one guy, and the Orioles added four. That said, Martinez would have been locked up for four seasons; of the new quartet, only Reynolds is guaranteed to be here beyond 2011.

So I want you to look at this team now. And think about what they did in the offseason. And then tell me, in retrospect, did the Orioles make a mistake by not upping their offer and signing Martinez to be their first baseman/DH/backup catcher through 2014?

Or, given what they did after Martinez signed with Detroit in November, is it OK with you that he went elsewhere?

Daily Think Special: Did the Orioles swing and miss by not signing Victor Martinez?

Posted by Dan Connolly at 6:00 AM | | Comments (42)
Categories: Connolly's Corner Sports Bar


If you take his comments at face value, it sounds like Martinez was not going to sign here regardless of the money. The headline, "In retrospect, should the Orioles have signed Victor Martinez" is misleading - it was not the Orioles' choice to make. They made their offer, and Martinez turned it down. Even more money would not have changed the outcome.

no it is not ok with me that the orioles let victor martinez get away. we were told that he was one of their top players on the wish list. you don't get that type of player by low balling them. a decent offer could have been made and not over spend

I like the acquisitions, but I think AM made a mistake by not outbidding the Tigers.

Absolutely not. Mistake then. Mistake now.

Reynolds @ 5 Million
Vlad @ 8 Million
Lee @ 7.25 Million
Hardy @ 5.85 Million
Committed to Reynolds Next Year 7.5 Million
Grand total of 33. 6 Million and only one extra year committed to one player.

Or 12.5 to 13 Million committed over 4 years for one player (VMart)

I'll Take the route already traveled, Thanks.

Martinez is a great hitter but signing him to a 4 year deal with the core we have now would have been a mistake. Sure, it would be great to have his bat as a DH and his glove behind the plate when Weiters needs a day off, but that is not what puts the O's over the top and makes them a division contender. Practically all of the farm talent has emerged to the bigs within the past year and there is a need to replenish the source. Signing Vlad and Lee to one year deals gives Andy and the O's exactly that opportunity once the trade deadline rolls around.

I don't have a problem with it at all. No team, not even the Yankees, gets everyone they want. The O's made a good offer and effort to sign him, but it's up to the player where he wants to go for reasons such as the ones you've given.

Nobody wants to hear about the Big One that got away.

Don't cry over spilled milk.

Or an Nixion used to say, "That's water over the gate."

I think this topic is pointless. I wanted Matinez, but like you already pointed out, there were more pluses for him to sign with Detroit. That's just the way the ball bounces sometimes. It is not like the O's were in any position to not be careful with their money especially that early in the offseason. Though I wanted Martinez to sign here and like him as a ballplayer, I am content with what the O's did in end. The O's have plenty of options this offseason including resigning Lee and Vlad if they do well while at the same time they are not locked in beyond a year if they prove they don't have it anymore. I like Hardy the most out of all moves. Hardy is nearly a super star with his talent in field and at bat. Hardy can very easily hit 25 HRs, 35 doubles and 90 RBIs just as he did for about 3 seasons in a row in Milwaukee...he is primed and ready to regain that kind of production now that he's in his 3rd AL season and we are seeing it happen now.

Sure, it would have been good to sign Martinez. But, for a welcome change, the Orioles had a Plan B that puts them in decent position to win. No need to lament what might have been.

The same unrealistic rhetoric spewed a few years ago about Teixeira. Both guys never had any intention of coming to Baltimore.

they kinda messed but they got enough in the four guys they picked plus flexabilty during this trade deadline and free agency...Prince Feilder??Abert Pujols??

Ok, we all know that we can't go back and revise history but can we at least stop pitching this guy down and's his sweet spot and he murders that pitch.....GO O's , come back with a win and take the series....

If the Orioles were serious about obtaining Victor they should have traded for him! However, they did not. They had "NO" shot at getting him Free Agency. The whole thing was a ruse!

It's funny that you mention this Dan, several of Detroit’s team leaders are fellow Venezuelans. Yeah, one of them was Armando Galarraga and where is he today? He's out in Arizona getting his 1st win. One more then the "Duke" if I may add. Look I will take Vlad, JJ, Mark, and DLee. I like them all, I do. The one fellow that I would have wanted Jayson Werth, but that just wasn't in the cards for the O's. What makes this even more funny the Red Sox could have used him. Salty stinks and Varitek is not aging well.
As a side note, I can't tell you how nice it is to see the Red Sox struggling. "Crying Shame"! Anyway...Did the Orioles swing and miss by not signing Victor Martinez?
No, because how can you swing and miss, when you didn't even step foot in the batter's box. The O's had no chance whatsoever. A bunch of Blarney. Oh speaking of Blarney Chris Jakubauskas is going to come in and put the fire out on Sunday against the Rangers...Blarney!

If we're stressing defense--how do you know this guy can play 1st base on a par with Derrick Lee?

No, too long term of a deal for an aging player, he will still be good, but he definitely isn't worth the money or the draft pick they would have given up.

No one bothers to look at the fact that V-mart would have solved our 1B problem for the next four years.

Come next offseason: Guess what!? Andy is going to be budget shopping for a new first baseman.

No. We never should have been in the running.

If we are going to spend 12 million a year on someone, I would hope it wouldn't be a converted catcher who is 32 years old and has been on the DL twice in the past 3 years.

$48 million invested over 4 years in international scouting and the draft would make the O's unquestionably better over the long haul than $48 million invested in 4 years of Victor Martinez.

Guess what? Brummie will find something else to complain about if the Orioles sign the best free agent on the market, because he's a one-trick pony who is allowing the comments section of this blog to erode with each one of his idiotic postings.
Anyone at The Sun going to put a stop to this?
Martinez was overpriced at first base. Look at his numbers! Since when did he become Pujols? Fans act like he would have been a huge signing. He would have been a nice bat in the lineup, and his ability to catch and play 1B would have been nice. But come on, it's freakin' Victor Martinez.
I'd rather have him than Brummie. At least he's not a pathological liar. But still...

No...One guy can only help a team improve by about 5% (+8 games). That is if it works out good. The Orioles spent their money well by getting four players that can help the team improve by 12% (+19 games) and if it works out, bring in a pitcher to earn his money down the playoff stretch that would have been spent on Big Vic...

V-Mart wanted to catch, not play 1st. He is an average 1st baseman and a below average defensive catcher. Do you really think that the Rd Sox, given thier payroll and resources, couldn't have signed him if they wanted too? Why didn't they? 'Cause they didn't think he was worth the money as a 1st baseman, and was not a good enough catcher. Keep the deals AM made.

It would have taken far too much capital, and it would have been a mistake to lock up someone for so much for so long. Have you people learned nothing from Albert Bell?

This is really not even a question.
Let's be serious...who would anyone in baseball rather... a pretty washed up injury prone veteran or a guy still on the cusp of his prime?
I mean are you expecting people to say I'd rather a .242 average, 8 home runs & 63 RBI's over a guy, especially hitting half the time in OPACY, who is capable of hitting 30 HR's, driving in 100 & hitting around .280?
Next real question please!

Would have completely depended on how the rest of the offseason played out.

Yes they made a mistake if they get vmart, then still trade for reynolds and hardy. If they sign vmart and then use his contract as an excuse not to fill holes at third and short then it was not a mistake.

But several other readers have made the correct point, he wasn't coming here no matter what he says now. He wanted to catch, and play for a team with a chance. In early winter he believed he wasn't going to get either of those options here.

I am glad we didn't give a 4 yr deal to a guy who is weak defensively and basically would have been a DH.

Speaking of Deals. I know this is an old rumor from last year, but....

However, this is a new rumor

The Red Sox aren't happy with Reyes, who's a lefty. Maybe a change a scenery would be good for Mike Gonzalez. I still would love to see Jonathan Papelbon in an O's uniform. Of course, I realize that I might be the only person interested in this, plus the fact the bullpen will all be comprised of all righties if the O's did that. Still the idea intrigues me and if the Red Sox are looking to make a big splash, why not splash with us?
Can't wait for the response!

It would have been a great signing, but there was no way, none, that VM was going to sign here. In fact, the way it looks, he was pre-disposed to going to the Tigers from the jump, mostly because of the Venezuelan connections. Catching? Detroit made it very clear, right after the signing, that Alex Avila was their everyday catcher, and that VM would only catch once or twice a week, with most of his ABs coming at 1st or as DH. And Avila has started 4 of their 5 games so far.

It wasn't about the money the Orioles offered. The White Sox offered the same money as the Tigers over 3 seasons, not 4, and he turned them down, too. It looks for all the world like he wanted to join his countrymen in Detroit, and as soon as they made a decent offer, he was ready to go. There was no counteroffer, not even an attempt to play one team off another to raise the bidding.

Yeah, VM at 1st base would have closed up a big hole in the lineup for 4 years. I guess it's Andy's fault for not signing every Venezuelan he could find the last 3 years. Seriously, there was virtually no chance of VM landing anywhere but Detroit.

Surprised no one has mentioned the possibility of McPhail targeting Prince Fielder next year. Victor-schmicter!

Those who pointed out that the decision was VMs, not the Os were correct. He wanted to catch more and the Os couldn't offer him that. I think it's interesting that he sems to not be catching very often anyway. Wonder if the Tigers made him promises they knew they weren't going to keep?

It all turned out for the best.

Asking if the Orioles should have signed V. Martinez is like asking if I should have gone to the senior prom with Betty Jean Thompson. I asked, she turned me down, we both ended up going with someone else. We don't need to know how it ultimately turned out to know that all parties involved made their decisions at the time based on what they felt was best for their own situation.

To my knowledge, the Orioles did not make a take-it-or-leave-it offer, so if V-Mart was interested in playing for the Orioles he could have easily negotiated to see if he could get a better deal. I don't think the Orioles are going to regret not paying Martinez $13M per year (assuming they would have upped their offer to this and he accepted it) to be primarily a DH and part-time 1B/C in 2013 and 2014. They made a fair offer based on his true value, and he got a better one someplace else and took it. The Orioles ended up with what is probably a better overall situation for 2011 and still have flexibility for future years.

Had they signed Martinez I would be rooting for him to do well and for the Orioles to be very happy with the signing. Since that didn't happen, I am not going to lament this as a big one that got away.

I don't think the question is simply if they should have signed or not signed Martinez.

Hypothetically if they acquired Martinez, you could argue that it would not have created the sense of urgency that contributed to the creative dealings that resulted in trades for Hardy and Reynolds. Also, if they had added his contract to the payroll, the Orioles might not have had the budget space to add Vlad as an afterthought. Afterall they already had to stretch the payroll as it stood.

The correct way to think of this might be of a swap of signing Martinez for Lee (and all of the other additions this move allowed for).


As much as I respect Martinez's skills, I agree with everyone who says the O's came out in better shape by not having gotten him; if they had gotten him (I put "if" because there's no certainty he'd ever have signed), it would have by grossly overpaying him the way the Nats did with Werth.

This, in turn, would have made it impossible to have turned around and signed JJ, Vlad, Mark and Derrick, who collectively are worth more wins per season than V-Mart.

All in all, signing Victor is a decision that was best left undone.

CSB Jack: Betty Jean Thompson went to the prom with me, and we got to third base! So go ahead and whine now.

Emphatically , No! We didn't need a catcher. Martinez would have been a DH and sometime 1B with us. We have Vlad for 1/3 of what Martinez wanted , and for only one year. The other 2/3 of Martinez's salary pays Lee, Fox, Hardy, Izturis,Duch,and we still have money left over, just by not signing one player.
This extra money will be better spent on the ML draft.
I feel that we will do just fine with the team we have, better than .500 this year,and with Martinez, it would not have been any better. DH's are the easiest spot to fill in free agency anyway.

The only way to answer that question is to wait until season's end to see what D Lee provides. If he bats .289 with 25 bombs, the O's play well and he re-ups for two more seasons for a slight raise, you tell me--should they have signed Martinez for 50 mil?

D Lange - I agree. By the way, that was an awfully sweet swing D-Lee put on the ball for that opposite-field homer last night. One thing people who are arguing that the O's should have signed V-Mart seem to be forgetting is that he doesn't have too much power.

Not that upset about not signing V Mart. I liked the deals for Hardy, Lee and Vlad, but the one guy that I wish they went after with a bigger offer is Dunn. He would've owned OPACY.

No. Martinez wanted to catch. The development of Weiters would have been affected. Weiters is becoming an accomplished catcher. And Lee is probably better at 1B than Martinez, defensively. No.

I'll go with whom we have. We're going to the playoffs.

See, Uncle Goose, that's an example of short term thinking. Glad you and Betty Jean had a good time, but what happened between my date and I will remain between the two of us. Let's just say that I am VERY happy with how things turned out, not only for one night, but for the longer term as well.

I think the Orioles will be happy in the long term that V-Mart turned them down also.

The Orioles certainly need a catcher.

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About the bloggers
A Baltimore native, Dan Connolly has been covering sports for 14 years, and baseball and the Orioles for 10 seasons, including the past six with The Sun. His first year covering baseball on a daily basis was Cal Ripken Jr.'s final season as a player. It's believed that is just a coincidence.

Steve Gould is an assistant sports editor for The Sun, overseeing Orioles coverage. The Columbia native joined The Sun as a sports copy editor in 2006 after graduating from the University of Maryland.

Peter Schmuck has been covering baseball for a lot longer than Steve Gould has been on this earth. He is now a general sports columnist, but has been a beat writer covering three major league teams (the Dodgers, Angels and Orioles) and also spent a decade as the Sun's national baseball writer. If you want more of his insight on the Orioles and other sports issues, check out his personal blog -- The Schmuck Stops Here.

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