Dodgers, J.D. Martinez reach one-year deal (Source)
LOS ANGELES — At the trade deadline, the Dodgers pushed hard for JD Martinez from the Red Sox, but the asking price never came down and a deal between the two teams never came to fruition.
After more than four months, the Dodgers got their man. A source told MLB.com that they have reached agreement on a one-year, $10 million deal with Martinez. The deal, pending physical completion, has yet to be confirmed by the club.
The addition of the 35-year-old Martinez gives the Dodgers some much-needed depth to the lineup, especially from the right side. He got off to a hot start last season and earned his fifth All-Star honor. However, in the second half, Martinez’s production waned, and he posted a . 701 OPS after the All-Star break.
Overall, Martinez finished the year with a 0.790 OPS and hit 43 doubles and hit 16 home runs. He was especially dangerous against the left-handed pitcher, posting a .998 OPS.
In Los Angeles, Martinez will be reunited with hitting coach Robert Van Scoyoc, who worked extensively with designated hitters as a special coach before getting a job in organized baseball.
Martinez will also be reunited with Mookie Betts, who like Martinez, was crucial to the 2018 Red Sox World Series. The two players have often talked about how important cage sessions have been to their respective success. They will be able to do it again in Los Angeles.
There won’t be many reps for Martinez defensively next season, as the Dodgers are expected to use him strictly as a DH. Back in 2018, Martinez scored just 137 games on the field and scored less than 12 points above average. Last season, the Red Sox used him exclusively at DH, and his defense won’t improve at 35.
The addition of Martinez makes it more difficult for the Dodgers to sign third baseman Justin Turner, a right-handed hitter. The Dodgers declined a $16 million club option on Turner at the start of the season.
Turner, 38, had long hoped to stay with the Dodgers, but he’s had offers from a handful of teams and remains a very useful offensive player. But at this point in his career, he is seen as a designated hitter. Turner could, no doubt, still handle third base, but with Martinez now clogging at bats from that position, especially against lefty, there may not have been enough plate appearances for Turner.
The Dodgers have made it clear that Miguel Vargas will get a lot of playing time next season, which is another bad sign for Turner and a potential reunion. However, Los Angeles will remain in talks with Turner.
With the additions of Martinez and Noah Syndergaard over the past few days, the Dodgers’ payroll projection for next season is $210 million, still $23 million short of the competitive credit tax threshold — a figure the Dodgers would prefer to stay under next season. However, the Dodgers still have a few roster holes that they need to fill.
Los Angeles needs to add a left-handed batter, preferably in the outfield. If the Dodgers don’t add a center fielder in the market, look for them to add a cornerback and rely on Betts to handle some of the responsibilities in the center field. Now that Dansby Swanson is reportedly headed to the Cubs, it’s becoming increasingly likely that Gavin Lux will be the starting shortstop next season.
The Dodgers have no work left this winter, but they’ve had their eyes on Martinez since the inception of free agency. They got it on Saturday.
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