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News » Tribe not trying to move Martinez, but would they?


Tribe not trying to move Martinez, but would they?


Tribe not trying to move Martinez, but would they?
The Indians' position on trading catcher Victor Martinez is similar to their position on trading left-hander Cliff Lee, and perhaps even more uncompromising.

The Indians are not looking to move either player. They would gauge interest only if they fell completely out of contention. And even then, they doubt that any club would offer enough value in return.

Among rival clubs, however, there is a growing expectation that the Indians soon might explore the market for Martinez, a switch-hitter who leads the majors with a .401 batting average.

At least one club — the Red Sox — already has been in contact with the Indians about Martinez, according to two major-league sources.

The teams had a specific conversation about a month ago that involved premium players on both sides, but the talks failed to progress, a third source said.

Since then, the Indians' season has only turned worse.

The team is in last place in the AL Central, 7 1/2 games back. Its 14-25 record is the worst in the American League and second-worst in the majors.

The Red Sox, like the Yankees, routinely inquire on every potentially available player. But if designated hitter David Ortiz fails to snap out of his season-long slump, Martinez could be a perfect fit in Boston.

The Sox could give Martinez at-bats not only at DH, but also at catcher and even first base on days they might want to rest third baseman Mike Lowell and use Kevin Youkilis at third.

The Indians, however, will not part easily with Martinez, if at all.

"Of all the players we've had here, there is no finer human being, probably no one more proud to be an Indian, no more vested in the organization than Vic," Indians general manager Mark Shapiro said Sunday night.

"In light of his character and ability, if there's a guy you want to keep here if possible, he's that kind of guy."

Martinez, 30, is earning $5.7 million this season, and the Indians can retain him for $7 million in 2010. After that, he will be eligible for free agency.

The Indians probably will not want to offer a lucrative long-term deal to a catcher who will turn 32 the year that he enters the open market — and they have other, younger possibilities at both catcher and first base.

Martinez's backup, Kelly Shoppach, is under club control through ‘11. Class AA catcher Carlos Santana, the team's No. 1 prospect according to Baseball America, projects as the long-term starter at the position.

Matt LaPorta, the jewel of the Indians' four-player return for left-hander CC Sabathia a year ago, eventually could take over at first. Travis Hafner, the team's DH, is signed through ‘12.

The Indians would want an elite pitching prospect at the level of Braves Class AAA right-hander Tommy Hanson as the centerpiece of a trade for either Lee or Martinez. The Sox could offer Class AAA right-hander Clay Buchholz, but not all teams view him as a potential top-of-the-rotation starter.

Buchholz, though, would be only one moving piece. The Red Sox could dangle numerous others who might interest the Indians, including hard-throwing reliever Daniel Bard and Class AA first baseman Lars Anderson.

Shapiro hit the jackpot when he acquired Lee, outfielder Grady Sizemore and second baseman Brandon Phillips from the Expos for right-hander Bartolo Colon in June 2002. That deal, though, was an anomaly — the Expos, facing potential elimination by Major League Baseball, were operating with little regard for their future.

The Indians' return for Sabathia last June was LaPorta, highly regarded Class AAA outfielder Michael Brantley, left-hander Zach Jackson and minor-league right-hander Rob Bryson.

Sabathia was a potential free agent at the time he was traded. Any team that acquired Martinez or Lee would gain an additional year of control, potentially driving the price even higher.

The Indians, still trying to save their season, are even more reluctant to give up on 2010. Trading Martinez, in particular, would send the wrong message to an already fragile fan base.

Unless, of course, some team made an offer that the Indians could not refuse.


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: May 18, 2009

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