Tigers’ Cabrera expected to move to third base to make room for Fielder

Milwaukee Brewers batter Prince Fielder reacts after he hit a ball out of the ballpark foul against the New York Yankees before striking out in the eighth inning of their MLB interleague baseball game at Yankee Stadium in New York, June 30, 2011. REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)

Following the Detroit Tigers’ acquisition of free agent first baseman Prince Fielder on Tuesday, Miguel Cabrera is expected to move to third base.

There was some initial talk that the club would use a rotation at the corner infield spots, as Fielder and Cabrera would each play first base on some days while Cabrera moved to third base on others. But Cabrera told the Venezuelan newspaper Lider en Deportes that he would move to third base to accommodate Fielder.

“I will come back to the third base, which is my natural position,” Cabrera said via a translated version of the story. “The arrival of Fielder will benefit us.”

Cabrera played third base with the Florida Marlins before being traded to Detroit and eventually shifting over to first. At 240 pounds he’ll likely need to get into better shape this offseason in order to gain more flexibility for the position, but his willingness to move has to be comforting for the Tigers. (Especially considering the small rift that occurred in Miami earlier this offseason where Hanley Ramirez gave the Marlins some gruff by stating he would not move to third base in order to make room for free agent acquisition Jose Reyes.)

Fielder batted .299 with 38 home runs and 120 RBI in his final season with the Milwaukee Brewers last year. Since 2007, he hasn’t hit less than 30 home runs in a season and outside of 2010 (83), he has never drove in less than 100 RBI.

He and Cabrera now make a dangerous duo in the middle of Detroit’s lineup. Cabrera drove in 105 RBI last season while belting 48 home runs and hitting .344. The addition of Fielder eases a lot of doubt created by the loss of Victor Martinez, who suffered a torn ACL during winter conditioning and could miss the entire 2012 season.

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2011 Fantasy Baseball Rankings: Catchers

2011 Fantasy Baseball Preview | 2011 Fantasy Baseball Rankings

Designing your draft strategy for catchers can sometimes be a nauseating task. Do you nab Joe Mauer in the second round and not worry about the position again until you add depth at the end of your draft, or do you fill other positions first and go for value late?

One strategy that you might want to consider is passing on the top 2-3 backstops (in our rankings that would constitute Mauer, Brian McCann and Victor Martinez) and waiting to select your catcher until at least Round 8. That way, when the pitchers start to fly off the board in Rounds 4 through 7, you’re not worried about investing a pick in McCann and Martinez when there will be plenty of value starting in Round 8.

But which players will be available then? Below is the tier we think you target starting in Round 8. If you think one of these catchers will fall to Round 9, 10 or 11, by all means: wait. But Rounds 8-11 is where you’ll find great value without having to shop for your starting backstop later in the draft when the pickings are slim and the value is scattered.

Buster Posey, Giants
After bursting onto the scene last year to help the Giants win their first World Series in over 55 years, Posey might not last until Round 8. But if he does and you feel good about your roster to that point, don’t waste any time announcing his name at your draft. He hit .305 with 18 dingers and 67 RBI while scoring 58 runs in just 443 plate appearances last season. He has the maturity of a 10-year veteran but is only a second-year pro. The Giants’ lineup is still weak as a whole, but Posey should hit around .300 again with 20-plus HRs, 80 RBI and 70 runs scored.

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Tigers sign Victor Martinez to a $50 million contract

Boston Red Sox catcher Victor Martinez makes a throwing error as he tries to throw out New York Yankees batter Brett Gardner at first base in the tenth inning of their MLB American League baseball game at Yankee Stadium in New York September 26, 2010. REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)

It’s official: Victor Martinez is no longer a Boston Red Sox.

The Tigers signed Martinez to a four-year, $50 million contract that wasn’t confirmed until Wednesday. With the signing, Detroit adds a middle of the order bat to their lineup and a player that hit .302 in 538 plate appearances last year for the Red Sox. He also earned a trip to the All-Star Game for the fourth time in his career.

The Red Sox had hoped to re-sign Martinez but it was clear that they weren’t going to break the bank for him. They offered him a choice of three years and $36 million or four years and $42 million, but in the end Martinez opted to go where the money was greener. The downside for Boston is that it lost even more power in its ever fleeting lineup but the Sox pick up a high draft pick as part of their compensation for losing him via free agency.

The Orioles were also reportedly interested in V-Mart and offered him a four-year, $48 million contract, while the White Sox tried to lure him to Chicago with a three-year, $48 million deal.

But the Tigers won out in the end. They’ve been arguably the biggest players in this year’s offseason, committing $39.25 million to Brandon Inge, Jhonny Peralta and Joaquin Benoit.

A very early look at the top 5 free agents in baseball

August 10, 2010: Tampa Bay Rays left fielder Carl Crawford ( ) during game action between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan. The Rays defeated the Tigers 8-0.

The Giants haven’t been World Series Champions for 24 hours yet, but it’s never too early to take a look at which names will dominate the headlines this winter.

Here’s a very preliminary look at the top-5 free agents in baseball for 2011.

1. Carl Crawford, OF, Rays
Mark my words: The Yankees and Red Sox will be battling over this guy for the next couple of months. The Bombers could fall behind as they focus their attention on Cliff Lee, but you know their wallets are deep enough to best any offer that teams come to the table with for Crawford. There’s little to no chance he returns to Tampa next year and I fully expect him to man one of the outfields in either New York or Boston next season.

2. Cliff Lee, SP, Rangers
He probably cost himself a couple of million by throwing a 2-0 cutter in the zone to Edgar Renteria (who put it over the wall) in Game 5 of the World Series, but every team knows Lee is one of the best. And he’s certainly the best free agent pitcher on the market this offseason. Will he take the money and head up to the Big Apple or will he stay with the Rangers? Texas probably has a leg up, but it needs to put together a decent offer because in the end, money talks. The Yankees will do everything they can to get Lee in pinstripes next season.

3. Adrian Beltre, 3B, Red Sox
Beltre continues to be one of the best defensive third basemen in the league and he’s coming off a solid season in Boston. He has a player option for the 2011 season, but chances are he’ll move on and try to sign a multi-year deal elsewhere.

4. Jayson Werth, OF, Phillies
Personally, I think Werth is a tad overrated. I think he’s Aaron Rowand re-born and some team will foolishly overpay for his services. But he’s a middle-of-the-order power threat, so he’s worth the shot. The question is whether or not the Phillies pony up to retain him or if he heads off to greener pastures. Call it a hunch, but I think he stays in the NL.

5. Victor Martinez, C, Red Sox
The Tigers have already been linked to V-Mart, but the Red Sox could wind up re-signing him when it’s all said and done. At 32 his skills are declining but he’s a .300 lifetime hitter with a little pop, which is always big from the catcher’s position.

Other names to keep an eye on: Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Aubrey Huff, Paul Konerko, Jim Thome, Manny Ramirez, Derrek Lee, Adam Dunn.

2010 MLB Preview: AL East

In order to help get you ready for the MLB season, we’re doing division-by-division rankings with quick overviews on how each club could fair in 2010. Next to each team, you’ll also find a corresponding number written in parenthesis, which indicates where we believe that club falls in a league-wide power ranking. Be sure to check back throughout the next two weeks leading up to the season, as we will be updating our content daily. Enjoy.

All 2010 MLB Preview Content | AL East Preview | AL Central Preview | AL West Preview | NL East | NL Central | NL West

First up is the AL East.

1. New York Yankees (1)
If you think I would get cute in these rankings and suggest that some upstart team would derail the Yankees this season, then you sir, are sadly mistaken. I just don’t have the conjones to bet against them, especially after they added Curtis Granderson, Javier Vazquez and Nick Johnson to their already stacked roster. Sure they lost World Series MVP Hideki Matsui and Johnny Damon, the latter of which loved to work the count and provided the Yanks with some pop over the last couple of seasons. But thanks to Granderson, Johnson, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Texeira, Robinson Cano and Jorge Posada, the lineup is still stacked from top to bottom. Vazquez, CC Sabathia, AJ Burnett and Mariano Rivera will once again highlight a strong pitching staff and assuming they don’t suffer any major injuries, there’s nothing to suggest that the Bombers won’t make another championship run. That said, let’s not be oblivious to the potential problems that could arise for the Yanks this season. Age is a factor, as is the fact that Granderson can’t hit lefties and will be under the spotlight as the club’s biggest offseason acquisition. Plus, for as good as Vazquez was over the past couple of years, he was a disaster the last time he wore pinstripes (Boston fans remember this well.) Should the Yankees win another World Series? Yeah – especially considering they have the best-purchased roster in baseball. But just like last year, they still have to prove it between the lines and they’re not immune to hurdles getting in their way.

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