It’s been such a crazy week for the Dodgers, I never got around to writing about one of their biggest moves of the offseason.
Over the weekend, the Dodgers signed five-time All-Star J.D. Martinez to a one-year contract. Not only is it a great move by LA, I absolutely love it.
Even though I love the move, I was actually annoyed about it at first. But not for the reason you think. I had actually drafted up a 1,000+ word article the day before about why the Dodgers should make a run at signing Martinez. I decided that I’d finish the article the next day at some point, because why on earth would he all of a sudden be a Dodger within the next 24 hours…. RIGHT?
Well, turns out I should have just finished and published that piece, because I would have looked like a genius!
I’ll still take some credit for the signing, because on an episode of ‘Inside the Ravine’ last week I said signing Martinez would be my first move as GM. So, maybe Andrew Friedman is a weekly listener to the show?
Anyways, let’s get to Martinez and why I love this signing.
First off, it’s a bargain of a deal. The Dodgers signed a player for only $10 million who was an All-Star last season. A player who hit 43 doubles and posted a very respectable 117 OPS+. Considering players like Joey Gallo and Justin Turner signed for more, this deal seems like an absolute steal.
2022 was a “down season” for Martinez, which just goes to show how great he’s been over the last decade. His 16 home runs were his fewest in a full season since 2013. His .790 OPS was also his lowest in a full season since 2019 as well. Those numbers would be career-highs for a number of players.
If you want a positive from last season, Martinez hit a career-high 43 doubles, a number good enough for third in all of baseball. He was still producing at a high rate. For those into batting average, he still hit .274. The only reason his OPS wasn’t higher was because of his home run dip. Well, if he can hit 25+ home runs once again, his OPS should look a lot like his career number of .872.
When diving into his numbers, his season could be split into three sections. We’ll start with his first section. Over his first 63 games, Martinez hit .329 with an OPS of .924. No wonder he was an All-Star with those numbers. However, over his next 49 games, Martinez hit just .193 with an OPS of .543. Yeah, not great. Those are nearly identical to Cody Bellinger’s numbers from last year.
After a hot-and-cold journey of a season, Martinez closed his 2022 campaign on a high note. Over his final 27 games, Martinez hit .290 with an OPS of .915. He finished on a full-season pace of 36 home runs and 42 doubles. That’s more like it!
We know he can hit, what about what he can do in the field? Well, he’ll be limited there. The reason so many Dodgers fans were surprised by this signing was because Martinez is a full-time DH. He didn’t play in the outfield once in 2022. By having an every day DH, it limits how creative the Dodgers can get with their lineups.
Or can it?
Honestly, I think the Dodgers are going to be just fine. I know they like to rotate guys around the field, but I still think they’ll be able to even with the DH already locked up. They’ll have no problem shuffling the outfield along with moving guys around in the infield as well.
Plus, worse case scenario, I think Martinez is more than capable of playing in left field a few times a month. I don’t think the Dodgers would have a problem throwing him out there when the Pirates or Nationals come to town.
Plus, I don’t think Martinez has to be an every day player necessarily. One thing is for sure though, he needs to be in the lineup every time a lefty is on the mound. In 2022, Martinez was one of the top hitters in baseball against southpaws. He hit .319 with an OPS of .998 against left-handed pitching. Against righties, he hit .261 with an OPS of .729.
I think he might get a day off every now and then against righties, allowing the team to get creative with other players, should they choose.
I think I’ve done a great job in explaining why I love the move so much. Even if Martinez has the same exact season as last year, that will still be a pretty valuable bat in the lineup. Now, if Martinez is able to recapture his power and get that OPS+ up to 130 or so, you’ll have another All-Star in your lineup!