Victor Martinez never received a contractual offer from the White Sox, as confirmed by a Major League source to MLB.com on Monday.
The White Sox had interest in the switch-hitting catcher/first baseman/designated hitter, who could have provided a needed run-production presence from the left side. But contrary to published reports, the White Sox did not make any sort of $48 million offer over three or four years. Martinez eventually agreed to a four-year deal with Detroit, worth $50 million.
Catching stands as a position of interest for the White Sox, although Yorvit Torrealba was taken off the open market Monday via a two-year, $6.25 million deal with the Rangers. His signing leaves A.J Pierzynski, Miguel Olivo, Jason Varitek, Rod Barajas and Gerald Laird as the top free agents of interest at this position.
Pierzynski was not offered salary arbitration, but the steady backbone of the organization behind the plate for the past six years still could return to the White Sox.
He recently told MLB.com how both sides agreed to go through the free agent process and stay in touch, without the White Sox making an official offer. The team also could decide to go young and give the catching reigns to Tyler Flowers, who has developed defensively but struggled with the bat in 2010 for Triple-A Charlotte.
Alexei Ramirez is on the verge of earning elite Major League Baseball status so richly deserved by the White Sox shortstop’s performance over the past year.
Tuesday afternoon brings the Rawlings American League Gold Gloves announcements at 2:30 p.m. CT. Ramirez certainly doesn’t have the career-long pedigree as the Yankees Derek Jeter, for example, but any of the AL managers or coaches who voted on this award had to recognize Ramirez was the top defender at his respective position. He would be the first White Sox shortstop to win a Gold Glove since present manager Ozzie Guillen in 1990.
Then, on Thursday, the Louisville Slugger Silver Slugger Awards will be announced for both leagues. If Ramirez isn’t a favorite to win with his glove on Tuesday, most likely joining teammate Mark Buehrle with his second straight Gold Glove at pitcher, he certainly should be seen as the top-hitting AL shortstop.
And Ramirez also has a contractual decision to make. The White Sox shortstop can opt out of the $1.1 million he is set to earn in 2011, marking the final year of a four-year, $4.75 million deal, and become arbitration eligible. If Ramirez makes that move, as he is expected to do, the White Sox have the choice between exercising a $2.75 million club option or going through the arbitration process. The White Sox would be expected to exercise the option.
Ramirez has until Dec. 1 to opt out. The White Sox then have until Dec. 15 to make their decision.
Credit for Ramirez’s development goes to Guillen, who has practiced tough love during some momentary lapses for possibly the most talented player on the roster but also has shown him the ultimate support and respect. Bench coach Joey Cora also deserves praise for his tireless offseason and pregame work to help sharpen Ramirez’s defense at shortstop.
But the most credit for Ramirez’s growth goes to Ramirez himself. He has overcome consistently horrid starts, as shown by a .205 lifetime average in April, to post a career .283 mark, while finding a true home at shortstop. With a little better fortune at the season’s start, one of Baseball’s best five-tool contractual bargains could soon be talked about in Most Valuable Player consideration.