J.D. Martinez signs 1-year, $10 million deal with Dodgers, who hope to reverse his trends

The Dodgers have been lurking around J.D. Martinez‘s market for a while now and have recently pulled the trigger on a one-year, $10 million deal.

Martinez was once one of the best hitters in baseball, putting up a 152 OPS+ from 2014-19. However, he’s now entering his age-35 season and has been in decline basically in four straight seasons — posting an OPS+ of 173 in 2018, 139 in 2019, 79 in 2020, 128 in 2021, and 117 in 2022. That sure seems like a natural aging curve, and his .274/.341/.448/.790 line last year came with less than 20 homers for the first time in a full season since 2013 when he was on the Astros. The risk here is less about the money and years, and more that he may continue his decline and become a mediocre DH that clogs the versatility machine that is the Dodgers.

That said, where Martinez could come in particularly useful is against lefties, whom he had a .319/.419/.597/1.016 line against in 2022. He’s also still an above-average hitter that projects better for the upcoming season than most options they would’ve penciled in otherwise, so Martinez does provide a baseline boost for a lineup that probably needed it.

The move is a bit of a surprise since Martinez did not start a game in the field last year, which appears to mostly lock-in a DH for the Dodgers, an oddity for a team that values the spot to use for rest days and what not. Thus, one has to assume they’re hoping to reverse the trend of his career by reuniting him with hitting coach Robert Van Scoyoc, who helped him attain his lofty reputation in the box to begin with. As has been covered before, Martinez has also worked with Mookie Betts to help him get the most out of his talent, so that could be a benefit to the young hitters the Dodgers plan on utilizing this year.

While this hasn’t been the most glowing summary of the Martinez signing, it’s mainly because there isn’t a ton of evidence that he’s a better hitter than he appears on the surface in recent years, as most of his metrics are in decline. Thus, it really comes down to whether one believes the Dodgers can help him find another gear for a late-career surge, and for the commitment it’s hard to complain about adding depth, experience, and the obvious upside that Martinez has previously shown. I mean if the Dodgers could get Albert Pujols back on track after his Angels stint, it’s not exactly a stretch to think Martinez could find something as well.

About Chad Moriyama

Avatar photo
"A highly rational Internet troll." - Los Angeles Times