The Tigers signed outfielder Leonys Martin to a one-year major-league contract and added veteran catcher on a minor-league deal, per a club announcement on Tuesday. Martin’s contract is worth $1.75 million, plus $1.1 million in incentives, per USA TODAY’s Bob Nightengale.
Martin, 29, has been miscast in an everyday role for much of his major-league career, collecting at least 500 plate appearances in three of the past five seasons over a career that’s been split between the Rangers, Mariners, and Cubs. Though he’s failed to produce at the plate, posting a .247/.300/.360 slash line over 2,175 PAs, he’s been a strong defensive center fielder, ranking fifth among big-league center fielders with 48 defensive runs saved since 2013. The role that Martin filled with the Cubs after being acquired in an August 31 trade—that of a late-inning defensive replacement and pinch runner—is probably the one he’s best suited to fill going forward, though with the Tigers’ extreme lack of outfield depth, he figures to have a pretty good shot of contending for a starting job in 2018.
Norris, 28, is an interesting addition as Detroit looks for a new backup for James McCann—a role that they didn’t really fill substantially after trading Alex Avila to the Cubs on July 31. Norris was an All-Star with Oakland in 2014 and has consistently drawn acclaim for his defensive ability and decent power. He’s struggled to hit for average or get on base at a respectable rate in recent seasons, though, and his market has dipped as a result.
Norris’ stock had already slipped a fair amount last season, as he was dealt by the Padres to the Nationals in December with the intention of him being a stopgap solution until prospect Pedro Severino was ready. Washington ended up signing Matt Wieters in late February, though, and Norris was released before he ever played in a game.
He signed with the Rays just days before the start of the season and was decently successful as part of a platoon with Jesus Sucre over the season’s first three months. But after his former fiancée, Kristen Eck, made domestic violence accusations against him in June, Norris was released by the Rays as they made room on the roster for catcher Wilson Ramos on June 24. MLB announced that he was suspended for the remainder of the season as a result of the domestic violence investigation.