Martinez leaves Sox, joins Tigers

It’s offiical, the rumors have been confirmed as free-agent catcher Victor Martinez has agreed to a four year, $50 million deal with the Detroit Tigers.

So long Victor.

Welcome Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

Martinez is leaving Boston because the Tigers offer out-bid the final two offers from the Red Sox, which were reported to be: a three-year, $36 million deal or a four-year deal for $42 million. With Martinez now out as the everyday catcher for the Red Sox, Theo Epstein is now left with Saltalamacchia and a slew of minor-league prospects to fill the catching position in 2011.

The reasons (cough excuses) seems pretty obvious for why Epstein didn’t dole out the cash and red carpet to Martinez.  He didn’t want to offer a four-year deal to a guy who would be 35-years-old when he finished the deal.

His catching abilities have diminished and the Sox weren’t going to pay him $12.5 million a year to be their first-basemen or designated hitter of the future.

Alright, we get it.  But whose going to catch?

Insert Saltalamacchia.

The 25-year-old has 813 big league at-bats in his career and has been troubled by injuries and throwing mechanics.  But, the Red Sox must think he’s overcome those problems and is ready to become the everyday catcher.

Or else they made a big mistake in not re-signing Martinez.

The bright side of Martinez leaving is that if the Sox offer him salary arbitration (the deadline is Tuesday), then they will receive the Tigers No. 1 pick (No. 19 overall) and a first-round “sandwich” pick, assuming that Detroit doesn’t sign any higher-ranked free agents such as Jayson Werth, Carl Crawford, or Cliff Lee.

But the draft picks don’t ease the pain of Martinez’s parting shot.  Let it be clear, with nearly $40 million to spend this off-season (to reach last year’s payroll) Sox fans will expect holes at third, left-field, catcher and the bullpen to be addressed.

Signing Martinez would have not only been addressed the catching issue, it would have solved it.  Without him, the hole remains.  

Without much concrete on the open market to fill it.

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