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01/10/12 11:17 AM EST

Mets place Martinez, Herrera on waivers

Move clears roster space for free agents S. Hairston, Cedeno

NEW YORK -- This is how far a top prospect's status has fallen: The Mets placed once-untouchable outfielder Fernando Martinez on waivers this week, a league source confirmed, in order to clear roster space for new free-agent acquisitions.

The Mets also placed reliever Daniel Ray Herrera on waivers to clear 40-man roster space for outfielder Scott Hairston and infielder Ronny Cedeno, whose free-agent deals will soon become official.

Widely considered one of the organization's top prospects from 2006-10, Martinez was billed as a power-hitting outfielder expected to be a cornerstone of the Mets' lineup throughout this decade. But multiple injuries and an arthritic right knee have prevented Martinez from appearing in more than 82 games in any of the past three seasons.

Forty-seven of those appearances have come with the Major League club, though almost exclusively as a reserve. Martinez hit .183 with two home runs during those stints. He hit .260 with eight home runs in 63 games for Triple-A Buffalo last season.

Once considered all but untouchable in trade talks even for top players, Martinez is not necessarily headed outside the organization. But because of his pedigree and age -- he remains just 23 years old -- another team could easily take a flier on him considering the negligible cost of doing so.

If Martinez does clear waivers, the Mets will be able to send him back to Triple-A Buffalo without spending a 40-man roster spot on him.

Herrera, 27, was one of two players to be named later in the deal that sent Francisco Rodriguez to Milwaukee last July. Thought to be a potential second lefty in New York's bullpen heading into this season, Herrera will be eligible for free agency if he clears waivers.

Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDicomo. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.