Scouting The Waiver Market: Fernando Martinez

Report: Yanks will reevaluate budget soon
Imagining a pinstriped reunion with Kerry Wood
(Ron Antonelli/New York Daily News)

Yesterday afternoon the Mets somewhat surprisingly waived former top prospect Fernando Martinez, cutting ties with the 23-year-old outfielder to make room on the roster for personal fave Scott Hairston. Baseball America considered him one of the top 100 prospects in the game as recently as 2010 and four times overall, but the Omar Minaya regime did their best to sabotage his development by rushing him through the minors. The new Sandy Alderson led front office is basically turning the page.

It’s all but guaranteed that some team will acquire Martinez from the Mets, either off waivers or through trade. Should that team be the Yankees? Let’s take a look…

The Pros

  • Like I said, Martinez is only 23 and will spend all of next season at that age (born in October). He’s a little more than a month older than Austin Romine, for reference. If nothing else, time is on his side.
  • “Martinez has power potential to all fields, though he has gone to left-center less frequently than when he was younger,” said Baseball America (subs. scouting report) when they named him the Mets’ third best prospect in 2010. “His bat speed and improved ability to make contact should allow him to hit for a solid average.”
  • Adam Rubin confirmed that Martinez does have one minor league option remaining, so he can be sent to the minor leagues in 2012 without a problem. With less than one full year of service time to his credit, he’ll remain under team control for another six seasons. Martinez will qualify as a Super Two when the time comes, however.

The Cons

  • Like I said, the Minaya regime rushed him badly. Martinez was playing in Double-A as an 18-year-old despite playing just 87 games and getting just 386 plate appearances in the low minors. He was in the big leagues as a 20-year-old in 2009.
  • Not only has he been rushed, but injuries have taken away from his development. Martinez has never played more than 90 games or received more than 400 plate appearances in a single season, topping out at those totals in 2008. He’s been done in by a wrist strain (2011), right knee arthritis (2010), right knee surgery (2009), an elbow strain (2008), and various hamstring problems (2008, 2010, 2011).
  • In his 145 big league plate appearances, he owns a .245 wOBA overall and a .195 wOBA against left-handers. His career Triple-A batting line is fine (.265/.326/.465 in 727 plate appearances), but he’s never walked much (6.6 BB% in the minors) and he’s become more strikeout prone as he’s climbed the ladder (21.7 K% in Triple-A). He also doesn’t steal bases (just 20-for-32 in the minors).
  • Once considered a future center fielder, Martinez is now considered a corner guy because the leg injuries have sapped his speed. His arm isn’t all that great either, meaning left field is the best fit.

When I looked at Jai Miller as the potential scrap heap pickup a few weeks ago, I did so thinking he might represent an upgrade over what the Yankees currently have on their 40-man roster, specifically Justin Maxwell. Small moves like that often get overlooked but they are important, as improving the margins of the roster can yield significant benefits down the road. The same logic applies to Martinez, who at this point is little more than a roll of the dice.

The incumbent left-handed hitting spare outfielder is Chris Dickerson, who is a fourth outfielder type that can hit righties a bit (career .340 wOBA), play solid defense in all three outfield spots, and steal some bases (24-for-30 career). He’s no higher than fifth on the Yankees outfield depth chart though, and since he’s out of options he can’t go to the minors without first clearing waivers. There’s a chance he’d get claimed. Martinez is six and half years younger, has more power (see some of it here and here), and can go to the minors without a problem, which might make him a better fit for the team and their roster. After all, Dickerson could be gone before Opening Day whether the Yankees like it or not.

I don’t think there’s any chance Martinez will get to the Yankees on waivers; a team with a higher waiver priority will surely claim him first, which means they’d have to work out a trade with the Mets. Crosstown trades don’t happen very often, but that doesn’t mean they can’t happen. Dickerson is the better player at this point, but Martinez provides more flexibility and long-term potential, even though most of his prospect shine has worn off.

Report: Yanks will reevaluate budget soon
Imagining a pinstriped reunion with Kerry Wood
  • Mister Delaware

    The Yankees should only put in a claim if they’re going to offer him a lot of money and 600+ PAs at the major league level. Otherwise, Cashman is just being mean.

  • Soriano Is A Liar

    This may be a silly idea, just curious: would a dickerson for F-mart trade make sense (assuming the mets were interested in Dickerson to fill space in the outfield?). Since the Yankees would probably have to let Dickerson go anyway, they could trade him in essentially a lateral move for a player that would at least be around for another year. Or is even that too much to give up for a player who was just DFA’d? I know my trade proposal sucks, just trying to get a feel for the value of these guys in this situation.

    • CJ

      Why Dickerson is a good fit 5th of? What about the speedster of Baltimore let go? How’s his defense? Greg golson 2.0

    • vin

      If someone with potential upside and a minor league option isn’t worth retaining on the 40 man roster for a rebuilding franchise, I’m not sure Chris Dickerson as a 5th OFer is the answer (plus the loss of someone else from the 40 man).

      • Soriano Is A Liar

        Idk, I was just assuming the Mets might be interested in platooning him with Hairston or something. I know that’s a stretch, it’s just for the purposes of this hypothetical situation.

  • Robert

    Dickerson to Mets for Martinez.Mets get something for Martinez.Yankees get someone that has some usefulness.

  • BK2ATL

    Why not take a flyer on the kid and give him a full year in AAA to let him develop? He’s a top-100 talent, but just got rushed through that God-awful organization in Queens.

    I mean, it’s not like we have many high-end OF options in AA or AAA. This kid could help. If he develops well, we have a fallback for Swisher next year. Or, we can use him in trade. If he doesn’t, no harm, no foul.

    • vin

      “Why not take a flyer on the kid and give him a full year in AAA to let him develop? He’s a top-100 talent, but just got rushed through that God-awful organization in Queens.”

      Which is what the Houston Astros will probably say to themselves just before they place the waiver claim.

      • Jumpin’ Jack Swisher


      • BK2ATL

        You have faith in the Astros’ organization??? LOL!!!

        • vin

          In year’s past, you’d be right. But they’ve got a new regime in place that HAS to be smarter than the old guard.

          • BK2ATL

            LOL!!! Let’s hope…if only for the sake of Astros’ fans.

  • David

    I haven’t heard much about Martinez until now, but it sounds like his career path so far has been a lot like Travis Snider in Toronto?

  • ADam

    Ugggh.. another Met’s garbage heap player… no thanks

    • The Big City of Dreams

      Why not can’t hurt

  • Jose M. Vazquez..

    I agree with the commenters above that the Yankees should trade Dickerson for Martinez if they can. After all, they cannot use him and are going to lose him. So why not try and make the trade?

  • Jumpin’ Jack Swisher

    I’d take a flyer on him in a heartbeat, even for Dickerson. I just don’t think they’re going to get the chance to do it before a lesser team claims him.

  • Reggie C.

    It wasn’t that long ago when F-Mart vs Snacking comparisons were debated over; some of that on this board.

    So long as F-mart’s power potential remains alluring , teams will overlook the declining speed and defense. Highly doubt Cashman will even get an opportunity to place a claim.

    • Reggie C.

      How the hell does Ajax get auto-corrected into Snacking. My phone ain’t that smart apparently. Yeesh. Apologies guys.

      • bpdelia

        Wow hysterical. In the open thread my kindle didcsome crazy ass auto correct but flatter vs snacking is hillarious.

        For what its worth id still take snacking …

  • Fernando

    I immediately thought Martinez was worth picking up. Of course, he won’t make it via the waiver claim process. So I would offer Kevin Whelan for Martinez. Mets were looking for more relief help and this gives them a better return than Dickerson…and would entice them to deal with the Yankees.