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Free Agent Profile: Slugger J.D. Martinez is back on the market after a rebound year with the Dodgers

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Photo credit:Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Brennan Delaney
3 months ago
Could the Blue Jays look for a designated hitter in free agency? 
In this series, we look at free agents who the Jays could be interested in as free agency continues. We’ve already covered 11 players, which you can find at the bottom of the article. Let’s look at J.D. Martinez, who had a huge season on a one-year contract with the L.A. Dodgers. 

J.D Martinez’s 2023:

Martinez had his best season since 2019 in 2023. With his first and potentially only season with the Los Angeles Dodgers, the designated hitter slashed .271/.321/.572 with 33 home runs (his most since 36 in 2019), with a 7.1 BB% and a 31.1 K%. He amassed a 135 wRC+ and a 2.2 fWAR with the Dodgers.
His wRC+ was the highest since the 2019 season as well, while his fWAR was the highest since 2021. There were some downsides to Martinez, though, as his 31.1 K% was the highest in his career, and well above his career 24.7 K% mark in his 13-year career. His 7.1 BB% was also the lowest mark since his 2013 season when he had a 3.2 BB%.
Speaking of career numbers, he’s slashed .287/.350/.524 with 315 home runs in 6370 plate appearances for a 132 wRC+ and a 28.7 fWAR. He’s not the hitter he used to be, such as in 2018, when he slashed .330/.402/.629 with 43 homers in 649 plate appearances, but Martinez can still hit.

J.D. Martinez’s contract:

Martinez is already 36 years old, meaning that from here on out, he’ll likely get short-term deals from here on out. From Jim Bowden’s contract predictions article in The Athletic, he suggests the designated hitter will get a one-year, $12 million deal, which is just slightly above the $10 million he made last season with the Dodgers. 
Meanwhile, MLB Trade Rumors has a much higher prediction for Martinez, as they believe he’ll get a two-year deal at $40 million which equates to $20 million a season. They also speculate that the reason he didn’t receive a qualifying offer is because the Dodgers will be looking to add Shohei Ohtani. Giving Martinez a qualifying offer ran the risk of taking up the DH spot in 2024.

Is J.D. Martinez a fit for the Blue Jays:

In recent seasons, the Blue Jays’ strategy for the designated hitter role has been to rotate players. They’ve avoided having a full-time DH so that players with injury history such as George Springer can take a day off from the field while others like Teoscar Hernandez and Lourdes Gurriel, who weren’t great in the outfield, didn’t have to be relied on as heavily defensively. Brandon Belt was the closest they’ve had to a permanent designated hitter, playing 69 games at the position, but he still played 29 games at first.
With Martinez, that’s much less of an option. Since signing with the Boston Red Sox ahead of the 2018 season, he’s only played 1,184 innings in the outfield, and that had been steadily declining in recent seasons, only playing 12 innings in the outfield in 2023.
While his power and ability to hit for average would undoubtedly benefit the Blue Jays, it all depends on whether or not they want to change their strategy regarding the designated hitter position. It’s much more difficult to give the likes of Springer, Bo Bichette, and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. time off from the field when there’s a position-less slugger playing an everyday role on the team. 

Previously…


As always, you can follow me on Twitter, Instagram, and Threads @Brennan_L_D.

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