The arrival of Martinez immediately provided the Tigers with solid option for the fifth spot in the lineup. An important position considering the bat sitting in front of him in the four hole, Miguel Cabrera. Opposing pitchers avoided Cabrera like the plague in 2010, intentionally walking him 32 times. With Martinez lurking behind him in 2011, Cabrera's intentional walks dropped by ten to 22. Martinez also boasted a .380 on base percentage last year, often extending innings and creating scoring opportunities.
So, we know what the Tigers will be missing next year, the question is how do you replace him? Almost immediately, the name Prince Fielder surfaced. Signing Prince would give the Tigers three $20 million/year players. Not a prudent use of payroll. Aside from the money, the fact that Prince won't DH, nor will Cabrera, he's a perfect fit.
The more practical solution is for the Tigers to sign a more moderately priced free agent or to make a deal. The good news is that the Tigers have time on their side. Plenty of unsigned veterans remain on the market and Dave Dombrowski indicated that the solution the Tigers are are pursuing is short term. Is Vlad Guerrero the answer? He hit only 13 homers last year and will be 37 next month. Johnny Damon? I'm not sure that he would keep opposing managers from walking Cabrera. If the Tigers sign Yoenis Cespedes, that could free up Delmon Young to DH. Huge "if" with lots of competition.
Whatever the solution, there is still plenty of time to decide how to proceed. the Tigers should still be considered the favorite in the A.L. Central, but last season proved how important the fifth spot in the lineup can be.