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Pedro must pitch well at WBC to land new deal


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Pedro Martinez was lights-out against the Netherlands Saturday, and he might be lights-out again if he pitches for the Dominican Republic in their rematch with the dastardly Dutch again on Tuesday.

But for Martinez to draw serious interest from a major-league team, he will need to pitch well against stronger competition in the second round of the World Baseball Classic, assuming the D.R. qualifies.

Baseball executives haven't forgotten that Martinez looked terrible while going 0-3 with a 7.77 ERA in four starts last September. And as teams balk at giving him big money, his latest comeback might end before it starts.

On the other hand, a number of teams remain short on starting pitching, and all Martinez needs is one to give him a chance.

Martinez, 37, has said he would prefer retiring to his fishing boat rather than accepting a deal similar to the one-year, $1 million contract that free-agent left-hander Tom Glavine signed with the Braves.

The deal Martinez wants, one executive says, is similar to the one the Red Sox gave righty John Smoltz — a $5.5 million base salary with $5 million in incentives.

You can see Pedro's logic: Smoltz, 41, is coming off shoulder surgery, while Martinez is more than two years removed his last shoulder operation. Martinez made 20 starts last season, Smoltz five.

Still, there is no question that Martinez is a diminished pitcher.

"His stuff is just OK," the executive says. "He will need to have the plus-plus Pedro command to help a team out."

Martinez might show such command and even bursts of increased velocity in his brief WBC stints. But his case will become more convincing if he shuts down Team USA or Puerto Rico in the next round in Miami.

Even then, the Dodgers might be the only club with anything close to $5.5 million available, and their appetite for risk is minimal.

Perhaps no team has had more salary on the disabled list in recent seasons.

Martinez would fit with the Marlins and has told the team he would consider playing in Miami if he cannot get the deal he wants from another team, according to a major-league source. The Marlins, though, seem more likely to sign catcher Ivan Rodriguez, and it's doubtful they would land both free agents.

The Indians made runs at both Martinez and Smoltz before trading for infielder Mark DeRosa and could renew their interest if Martinez lowered his price. Martinez, however, might not want to pitch in cooler weather.

The Mets, as always, remain a possibility; Livan Hernandez is throwing well, but two of their other fifth-starter candidates, Tim Redding and Freddy Garcia, have been decidedly unimpressive.

Several other clubs in need of a starting pitcher — including the A's, Orioles, Nationals and Brewers — do not view Martinez as a fit.

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