Michael Martinez, who made the last out of the 2016 World Series, was used mostly as a utility man in 2016. He started the season with the Indians before being traded in July to the Red Sox. The Red Sox designated Martinez for assignment a month later, which led to him being picked back up by the Indians on waivers for the remainder of the season. In 104 major league plate appearances in 2016, Martinez slashed .238/.267/.307 with one home run and a measly .252 wOBA. In addition to his struggles driving the baseball, Martinez also posted a very disappointing 3.8 percent walk rate. At 34 years old, there is nothing to suggest Martinez will ever become anything more than a utility infielder and outfielder, who provides most of his value as a defensive replacement. In fact, Martinez will need to make a strong impression in spring training in order to make the Indians' 2017 25-man roster.
Martinez's offensive limitations put him behind the eight ball for an Opening Day roster spot, Zack Meisel of Cleveland.com reports. Since 2011, Martinez has managed a .197/.241/.266 slash line in 267 MLB games. According to FanGraphs, the 34-year-old owns the worst batting average for any player with 520-plus at-bats over the past six seasons. Martinez has done all he can this spring to prove he's a new man, going 16-for-45 (.356) with six extra-base hits (one home run), seven RBI and five runs over 17 Cactus League games. Unfortunately for the utility man, exhibition numbers can't hide the fact that Martinez has been one of the worst hitters in baseball since making his MLB debut. With younger options like Yandy Diaz and Erik Gonzalez on the rise, Martinez's chance at making the 25-man roster is on shaky ground.
Martinez will enter camp as a top contender to backup Jose Ramirez at third base, Fox Sports reports. The Indians do not have a clear-cut backup option at third, and they'll need one so that manager Terry Francona can utility Ramirez's versatility on the infield. There will be stiff competition for Martinez though, as Erik Gonzalez, Giovanny Urshela and Yandy Diaz are all viable options. Martinez hit .238/.267/.307 in 101 at-bats (63 games) for the Indians and Red Sox last season. And although his offensive numbers aren't impressive, the 34-year-old's ability to play the outfield and other infield positions makes Martinez an attractive bench option.
Martinez signed a minor league deal with a spring training invite with the Indians on Thursday, Jordan Bastian of MLB.com reports. Martinez's chances to make the major league roster will rely on a 40-man spot opening up for him and the Indians needing depth somewhere on defense. He's 34 years old and has a career-high OPS of .624, so the ceiling here is extraordinarily low.
Martinez was outrighted off the Indians' 40-man roster on Wednesday. Also not good for Martinez is that the Indians have an interest in bringing in a utility man on a minor league deal with a spring training invite, per MLB.com's Jordan Bastian, so Martinez could face an uphill battle if he wants to to return the big leagues with Cleveland. The 34-year-old put up a .238/.267/.307 line in 106 plate appearances last season while fielding six different positions.
Martinez was claimed off waivers by Cleveland on Thursday. Martinez will go back to Cleveland after starting the season as a member of the club before getting traded to Boston in early July. He was recently DFA'd by the Red Sox on August 2 to make room for Andrew Benintendi on the roster. Martinez will be added to the 25-man roster Friday prior to the Indians' game against the Yankees.