Here’s a list of every baseball player that has a higher wRC+ than J.D. Martinez since 2014:
While this appears to be impressive, I could understand an argument that the use of 2014 as a start date could be misleading, as production changes over time and new players have entered the fold since. So here is a list of every player with a higher wRC+ than Martinez since 2017:
- Mike Trout
Needless to say, J.D. Martinez is an elite hitter, as only the superhuman Mike Trout has outpaced his production at the plate over the last six seasons. Martinez, who recently turned 32, is a candidate to opt out of his contract with the Red Sox this winter and test the free agent market. Recently, there has been a pattern of national reporters/analysts connecting Martinez to the White Sox.
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) September 7, 2019
A-Rod saying on Sunday night baseball that he believes the #WhiteSox could be a landing spot for JD Martinez
— Southside Showdown (@SoxShowdown) September 9, 2019
On MLB radio this morning, Steve Phillips and Jim Bowden are discussing where JD Martinez would go if he opts out this winter. Phillips immediately says "White Sox "
this is out there for a reason
— South Side Clown Show (@NWI_Steve) September 9, 2019
If the White Sox are truly interested in Martinez, what is their competition?
Perhaps a better question is, do they really have any?
Martinez is all but relegated to a designated hitter role at this stage. As Rosenthal mentioned in the above video, he could wait to opt out for an extra year in hopes that the National League will adopt the designated hitter in order to effectively double his market. Such a risk, however, would certainly look foolish if the designated hitter takes more time to be adopted throughout the sport.
Therefore, 15 teams should theoretically have interest in Martinez as a DH. Most American League teams, however, either already have good designated hitters under contract or will not be in a position to make such a competitive signing (Royals, Tigers, Orioles, Mariners).
The only teams that do not fall into one of these categories are the White Sox, Rangers, Blue Jays, and Rays. The Rays are not known for big free agent signings, and while the same can obviously be said about the White Sox, the Rays are different because they consistently operate with payrolls that would render such a signing virtually impossible. The Blue Jays are another team with young talent on the upswing, but with Vladimir Guerrero Jr. grading as the worst defensive third baseman in baseball and scouts projecting him as a future designated hitter, it is difficult to forecast them making such a move and essentially forcing Guerrero to stay on the field for multiple years. While some believe that Eloy Jimenez is also destined to be a designated hitter, he is not as bad in left field as Guerrero is at third base, and scouts seem to like his chances of staying in left more than Guerrero’s chances of staying at third.
The Rangers are a legitimate threat to sign Martinez, as they are moving into a new ballpark, have plenty of money to spend, and could also have an opening at designated hitter. While they may be one of the highest bidders, it is also possible that they focus their energy on Anthony Rendon, Stephen Strasburg, or other free agents who will command even more money than Martinez.
Of course, a lot has to go right for the White Sox to land Martinez. First, he has to opt out. Then, they have to hope that a team such as the Rangers does not blow him away with a tempting offer. And perhaps most conspicuously, they need to prove that they are willing to spend on premier talent. While the White Sox are certainly not going to enter 2020 with one of the lowest inflation-adjusted payrolls in franchise history as some seem to expect, they also do not necessarily need to spend their money on a player like Martinez. A 4-year, $100 million offer may be necessary to even pique the interest of Scott Boras (Martinez’s agent).
Nevertheless, Martinez is a hitter who is worth such a large contract. He is young enough where significant decline should not be on the horizon. Despite being confined to a designated hitter role, he is a good bet to be the best designated hitter in the league and the best hitter in the team’s lineup. Adding Martinez to a lineup with the young White Sox core talent would do wonders for the offense. That national reporters are starting to name the organization in conjunction with Martinez is exciting to some, and perhaps aggravating to others who are reeling from the rollercoaster that was the 2018-2019 offseason — one that ended merely six months ago. Regardless, J.D. Martinez is a name to keep an eye on as the offseason nears, as he would make the White Sox lineup exponentially better and should face a relatively limited market.
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