Detroit Tigers: Leonys Martin a solid addition to outfield mix

ST. LOUIS, MO - SEPTEMBER 28: Leonys Martin (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS, MO - SEPTEMBER 28: Leonys Martin (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images) /

This offseason, the Detroit Tigers needed to find another outfielder and a left-handed bat. To address these problems, they have signed Leonys Martin to a one-year, $1.75 million deal.

Early this month, the Detroit Tigers signed Leonys Martin. Per Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports, it is a one-year, $1.75 million deal. Martin could earn another $1.1 million in incentives.

Martin had a down season last year, but if he can bounce back, he could indeed be a nice addition to Detroit’s outfield.

Through 49 games with the Seattle Mariners and Chicago Cubs last season, Martin slashed only .172/.232/.281 with three home runs. Before arriving in Chicago, Martin was designated for assignment by the Mariners.

Despite a tough year in 2017, Martin has a track record of being a somewhat solid big league player. Back in 2016, Martin slashed a respectable .247/.306/.378 with 15 home runs, 24 stolen bases and 47 RBI for the Mariners.

He was worth 2.2 fWAR that season. Going all the way back to 2014, he was a 3.6 fWAR player for the Texas Rangers.

While there may certainly be holes in his game and he is not a high on-base player (.300 career OBP), Martin can still bring a lot to the table when everything is going right.

Much-needed center field help

Martin’s experience in center field should be beneficial to the Tigers. At the end of last season, JaCoby Jones was given quite a long look in center field. Jones only managed to slash .170/.240/.270 with three home runs through 154 plate appearances.

Jones certainly showed that he could be a great defensive player and cover a lot of ground. That said, he has not yet proven that he can hit with consistency at the Major League league level.

Martin could be a great platoon partner for Jones. Otherwise, he could also take over the full-time job while Jones continues to develop in Triple-A. The Detroit Tigers also have another player in Mike Gerber, who could conceivably see playing time in center shortly as well.

The 25-year-old Gerber was recently added to the 40-man roster, but might be poised to begin the season in the minors. Perhaps Martin’s presence could help hold down the fort until Gerber is ready as well.

On occasion, Martin could also help out the Tigers in left field, where Mikie Mahtook currently appears to be penciled in as the team’s starter. Nicholas Castellanos, who established new career-highs in home runs (26) and RBI (101) last season, figures to be the starting right fielder on most days.

An excellent defender

Martin has also earned a reputation for being an excellent defender. Since the beginning of the 2013 season, Martin has 48 Defensive Runs Saved, which ranks second among center fielders who have logged a minimum of 4,000 innings. He trails only Lorenzo Cain in that department.

Right now, Martin should be a great short-term solution for the Tigers’ current outfield problems. Of course, there is a chance that it might not work out and his struggles at the plate could continue. However, at one year and $1.75 million, the Tigers are not taking an enormous risk either.

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If he can get his bat going again, he might also be a player who can draw interest at the trade deadline next summer. Martin could be a great addition to a team that is looking to add some speed and shore up their defense.