Which 5 MLB Teams Need J.D. Martinez the Most?
When J.D. Martinez entered free agency a few months ago, he had to think he was going to get a mega deal. He had to think he was going to get a seven-year deal that paid him nearly $200 million.
After all, that had been the going rate for a player who had put up the kinds of numbers he had in his career, and 2017 was a career year for the 29-year-old outfielder. In just 119 games (489 plate appearances), Martinez slugged 45 homers and knocked in 104 runs. Twenty-nine of those dingers came in an insane 62-game stretch for the Arizona Diamondbacks after arriving via a trade from the Detroit Tigers in late July, and on the season, he posted an OPS+ of 166, a weighted on base average (wOBA) of .430 and a weighted runs created (wRC+) of 166.
Despite being a poor defensive left fielder, he was worth 3.8 bWAR and 4.1 fWAR in 119 games, but don't be fooled into thinking last year was some sort of a mirage. Martinez has been great for a while now, with an OPS+ of 139 or better in each of the last four seasons, and a career mark of 130. Since 2014 he has averaged 130 games played, 32 homers, 31 doubles, and a slash line of .300/.362/.574.
Obviously, Martinez would be a fit for just about any lineup. But like most MLB free agents, he remains on the market waiting for a team to offer him a deal he feels he deserves. And while many contenders don't have room for another outfielder, even one as good as Martinez, there are some teams that could use his services.
Boston Red Sox
The Boston Red Sox are the ideal fit for Martinez, and it seems as if the entire industry believes he will eventually end up in Beantown. It was reported this week the Sox had offered him a five-year, $100 million contract, although that was later disputed by his agent, Scott Boras. One of the chief concerns about Martinez is his ability to stay on the field, as he's only managed to play more than 120 games in a season once in his career.
Still, Boston is in desperate need of power. In 2017, the Red Sox hit 168 bombs as a team, 27th-most in baseball. Martinez would replace Hanley Ramirez as the team's designated hitter were he to sign (Ramirez would still be around, but in a lesser role). Hanley hit .242/.320/.429 for Boston last year, with 23 homers and 62 RBIs in 133 games played. If the Sox are going to keep up with the New York Yankees in the AL East, they need a power bat like Martinez. Ultimately, a marriage between Martinez and Boston seems inevitable.
Generally it's assumed the Colorado Rockies need pitching help, but in 2017, it was their offense that struggled. They finished 21st in homers in MLB last year, despite playing in the most favorable homer park in the league. Martinez would replace Gerardo Parra, who put up a respectable slash line in 2017 (.309/.341/.452) but hit just 10 homers in 115 games for the Rockies last year.
Would Martinez's glove in the spacious confines of Coors Field be an adventure? Absolutely. But would watching Martinez hit bomb after bomb after bomb at Coors be a hoot, too? No doubt about it.
The D-Backs don't have all the money in the world, but if Martinez' price has begun to fall a bit, Arizona would be silly not to get involved. He was a tremendous asset to them in right field last season, and would be a huge upgrade over Chris Owings, who in five years and 474 games played has a total of 27 career dingers.
Arizona has a window open right now, with Paul Goldschmidt, A.J. Pollock, and Zack Greinke not getting any younger. Now is the time for the Diamondbacks to make a push, and keeping Martinez in the fold would help assure they are contenders in the NL West again in 2018 and beyond.
The Minnesota Twins surprised everyone last year by making the playoffs as the second wild card. They have a young stud in Byron Buxton, a middle-of-the-order basher in Miguel Sano, a left fielder in Eddie Rosario who hit 27 dingers last year, and a stud second baseman in Brian Dozier. The DH spot is currently being held down by Robbie Grossman, who hit .246/.361/.380 with nine homers and 22 doubles in 119 games last year. The on-base percentage is nice, but the lack of power is not ideal from a designated hitter.
The Twins appear to be focusing on improving the starting rotation, a necessity if they want to compete with the Cleveland Indians in the AL Central in 2018, and Minnesota has never had the kind of budget to add a big bat like Martinez. But he would make the middle of that Minnesota lineup as dangerous as any in the American League.
The Cleveland Indians already have Edwin Encarnacion penciled in as the designated hitter, so Martinez would have to play the outfield for Cleveland. Again, a dicey proposition. But with Michael Brantley's continuing health concerns (it's unclear if he'll be ready for spring training due to an ankle injury) and Lonnie Chisenhall's inability to provide consistent offensive production, adding Martinez would go a long way to providing the offensive punch that is sorely needed in the Indians' outfield, especially with the departures of Carlos Santana and Jay Bruce to free agency.