Tigers sign Martinez to Minors deal, add outfield depth

Tigers sign Martinez to Minors deal, add outfield depth

BRADENTON, Fla. -- The Tigers have been looking for outfield depth for most of the spring, even before losing Andy Dirks for three months to back surgery. J.D. Martinez doesn't fill Dirks' role, because he bats right-handed, but he adds some depth.

The Tigers signed Martinez to a Minor League contract on Monday, just two days after the Astros gave him his release. He was already in Minor League camp at Tigertown on Monday morning.

Detroit had shown interest in Martinez in the past, including trade talks at the most recent Winter Meetings. The 26-year-old Miami native broke in with Houston midway through the 2011 season, batting .274 with a .742 OPS and 35 RBIs in 226 plate appearances, and was a semi-regular player in 2012 before falling off last year.

He came off a strong winter ball season in Venezuela, batting .312 with six home runs in 24 games, but went just 3-for-18 with the Astros this spring.

Martinez would likely slot in at Triple-A Toledo, likely playing alongside Daniel Fields and Ben Guez. He gives Detroit some organizational depth if Tyler Collins makes the Opening Day roster as a left-field option.

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.