It’s not like we’re expecting Mike Baxter, Nick Evans, or Scott Hairston to be the solution in right field, so why not bring up our oft-injured forgotten prospect Fernando Martinez? He’s back from his latest injury, is already on the 40-man roster, and has already had his option burned for this year. He’s 11/36 with 2 walks, 1 HR and 5 doubles since returning to Buffalo.
I had wondered if he may be out of options. The rule is a little confusing, but it seems to state that a player is on optional assignment in any year that he is on the 40 man roster but spends 20 or more days in the minors. This would apply to 2011,2010, and 2009 for Martinez. A player may be optioned a fourth season if he has less than five years of professional experience. Martinez first year of pro ball was in 2006 at 17 with three different Mets minor league teams, which would give him six years of experience, so it seems like he cannot be optioned next year. A little digging seems to find an interview with Paul DePodesta saying he does have another option for next year, so it’s probably not D-Day for him yet. It looks like him being injured in the majors in 2009 prevented it from counting as an option year. If you’re curious about which players do and do not have options, there appears to be a handy little list right here by tpgmets.
Still, it’s growing close and 2012 will be the last season you can easily bring him up and down. Obviously the biggest concern is injuries keeping him from getting full seasons of plate appearances in the minors. He’s never played 100 games in a season, although if he doesn’t have another injury this season he will. He can prove he’s healthy just as easily in the majors as in the minors, and it seems like giving him the opportunity to prove he’s ready is pretty much win-win for the Mets.
Trading him is certainly an option too, but he’s had DL stints this year and hasn’t exactly destroyed AAA although his .766 OPS isn’t bad either. You’d basically be trading low, given his history, unless he shows you something through the rest of the season. The best way for that to happen is for him to show it at the major league level where it has the most clout. If he can hit major league pitching over the next six weeks in the majors, it only increases his value and the options Alderson will have regarding him.
As the Mets injuries pile up and they continue to prove they’re not going to make a significant break with .500 and legitimately chase the Braves, it seems like it’s in everyone’s best interest to promote Fernando Martinez to the big club. At this point I’d suggest just releasing Willie Harris, who isn’t very good and isn’t part of a solution.