The Cleveland Indians made a great decision in signing Leonys Martin to a $3 million deal to avoid arbitration. The deal gives him a $1.25 million raise from 2018 to 2019.
Cleveland needed help tremendously in the outfield that saw Bradley Zimmer, Tyler Naquin and Lonnie Chisenhall on the disabled list. Martin offered veteran stability at center field and added quality help to the lineup.
That all came crashing down when Martin developed an extremely dangerous bacterial infection after just six games in Cleveland. The battle back to health has been a long one after reportedly being in a life-threatening fight.
Martin and the club agreed on a $3 million deal on Wednesday to avoid arbitration. This works out well for both sides as he gets almost double his 2018 salary and the Indians avoid the ugliness that is the arbitration hearings.
Martin showed off some decent ability at the plate in his six games. In just 17 plate appearances, he slashed .333/.353/.733 with a 1.086 OPS. He also hit two homers with four runs batted in.
This was a very small sample size but Martin showed what he can bring to the Indians outfield. Their situation heading into 2019 is murky at best.
The Indians have Michael Brantley and Lonnie Chisenhall as impending free agents. It is very possible neither will wear the Indians uniform next season.
This leaves them with Greg Allen, Tyler Naquin, Jason Kipnis and a recovering Bradley Zimmer as the only other experienced MLB outfielders on the active roster. Signing Martin, if nothing else, ensures that they have some sort of veteran stability in the group.
Martin should be fully recovered by spring from the bacterial infection that ended his season and threatened his life in 2018. He can come in fresh in spring training to take over as an everyday center fielder in Cleveland in 2019.
The option is also there to platoon him and Greg Allen with Martin handling the duties against right-handed starters and Allen against lefties. Both would be at their strengths in the box and both offer solid defense and speed in the outfield.
With Zimmer recovering from major shoulder surgery there is no telling when he would be put in the mix. The Indians made the best choice possible in retaining Martin for 2019.
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Martin brings a strong arm, solid defense and veteran leadership to a young and depleted outfield. The team has a long offseason ahead but, signing Martin now will help ensure there is at least one stable piece to the outfield.