While news has been pouring out all day long about players avoiding arbitration, the biggest news is likely to be the Detroit Tigers' announcement that designated hitter Victor Martinez has a torn ACL and will likely be forced to miss the entire 2012 season. Martinez injured himself while doing winter workouts last week.
With the injury, a major need at the designated hitter position opens up for Detroit. This is a team that had been expecting Martinez to be a major factor on offense once again after a strong 2011 season, but now they may need to play the entire 2012 season without one of their best hitters. Martinez hit .330/.380/.470 in 595 PA's for Detroit last season, and was expected to be the full-time DH in 2012.
Now the Tigers are likely to be on the prowl for a new designated hitter without Martinez, and that could lead them in a variety of directions. Here are some of the rumors that have already popped up on Detroit's likely search for a new bat:
- Your first thought might have been Prince Fielder, but it's not going to happen. Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports reports that Fielder has said repeatedly that he won't be a designated hitter. With Miguel Cabrera locked in long-term as Detroit's first baseman, I think we can cross this one off the list.
- On the other hand, Cuban center fielder Yoenis Cespedes could be a real possibility for the Tigers, according to Morosi. The move would allow Detroit to get more athletic in the outfield by playing Cespedes in a corner, with Delmon Young moving to the DH spot.
- Two other possibilities outside of Cespedes could be free agents Johnny Damon and Carlos Pena, as Jim Bowden of ESPN notes. Signing either one would give Detroit a veteran bat to insert into the lineup, but they're both pretty limited defensively. Pena would certainly provide a bit more pop.