BALTIMORE -- Francisco Martinez, arguably the key prospect of the package the Tigers sent to Seattle to get Doug Fister, is headed back to the Detroit organization. The Tigers reacquired him for a player to be named or cash considerations, which the Mariners have to decide on by June 15.
Martinez was the Tigers' fourth-ranked prospect two years ago. Martinez, who was in the All-Star Futures Game along with Jacob Turner in 2011, was third baseman at Double-A Erie whose power was projected to blossom once he grew into his frame. It didn't happen in Seattle's system.
Martinez hit .227 (80-for-352) with 16 doubles, two homers and 23 RBIs at Double-A Jackson last year, and was batting just .206 (26-for-126) at the same level this season before the M's designated his contract for assignment on May 27 to make room for middle infielder Nick Franklin on the 40-man roster.
At some point last season, the Mariners began shifting Martinez from third base to center field. However, the Tigers are expected to move him back to third on a full-time basis.
Martinez is the second player from the Fister trade the M's have moved this year. They let go of Casper Wells at the end of Spring Training. Their remaining players from the Fister trade are lefty Charlie Furbush, who is in Seattle's bullpen, and right-hander Chance Ruffin, who's in the rotation at Double-A Jackson.
The Tigers have optioned Martinez one step down to Class A Lakeland starting out, but they had to make room for him on the 40-man roster. To do that, they've designated for assignment the contract of Quintin Berry, potentially ending a whirlwind 12-month stretch for the speedy outfielder.
Berry was the unsung hero of the Tigers' 2012 season, turning a midseason call-up as an injury replacement into a regular spot on the 25-man roster, and nearly made the team out of camp this spring. His season at Triple-A Toledo so far has been a perplexing plummet. His .168 average (28-for-167) includes a .106 clip in May. His speed hasn't fallen off, having stolen 15 bases in 17 tries, but a .278 on-base percentage hasn't allowed him to use that skill much.
The Tigers have 10 days to either trade Berry, release him or outright him to Toledo. He would have to go unclaimed on waivers to be outrighted.