Mets Need To Avoid JD Martinez
Reports are Steve Cohen and the New York Mets believe they still need to add a bat to this roster. In reality, they are quite right in that assessment. They may not be entirely correct in their pursuit.
According to those reports, the Mets are pursuing Michael Conforto and JD Martinez. As previously explained, Conforto would be a very good fit for the Mets roster, and really, it would be a good spot for Conforto to return to familiar surroundings to rebuild his value.
When it comes to Martinez, the Mets should avoid him. He is a very poor fit for this team, and in reality, he may not have anything left.
Martinez will be 35 next season. His sprint speed is 26.1 ft/sec. He didn’t play a single inning in the outfield last season. He has never played first base. The long story short is he’s only a DH at this point in his career. As a result, his ability to provide any value to his team will solely be wrapped up in his ability to hit.
That can be problematic.
Martinez was productive in 2022 with a 117 OPS+ and 119 wRC+. That mark ranked him as the seventh best DH in all of baseball. For a Mets team had the worst DH production for most of the 2022 season that would be an upgrade. However, it is probably not an upgrade from what is here already.
Last season, Daniel Vogelbach had a 150 wRC+ against right-handed pitching and has a 127 mark for his career. Looking towards 2023, he could share that role with one of Francisco Álvarez, Mark Canha, and/or Eduardo Escobar (133 wRC+ against left-handed pitching in 2022). All three of those players provide the ability to play in the field as needed.
Last season, Martinez had a 175 wRC+ against left-handed pitching and a 103 wRC+ against right-handed pitching. Therein lies part of the problem.
If you sign Martinez, you are signing him to DH everyday. However, we see while he kills left-handed pitching, he is not hitting right-handed pitching anymore. Considering the vast majority of Major League pitchers are right-handed, that is a problem. That is also the tip of the iceberg.
Looking over at Baseball Savant, Martinez is in decline like you would expect for a 35 year old baseball player. His exit velocities and launch angles were down. He struck out slightly more and his walks have dipped (both not to the point of any real concern). As a result, his hard hit rates are down as well. Digging deeper, he’s starting to struggle hitting the fastball with his xBA in a steep decline from 2017.
Again, this is what you get from a 35 year old player. That is even if you want to point out much of the regression in his production was related to back issues. Certainly, people will point to Martinez having a bad second half as evidence that the bat will be there now that Martinez has had an offseason to recuperate
If you recall, this is a game the Mets played in 2008 with Adrian Gonzalez. Gonzalez was 36 with back issues, and he played like a 36 year old with back issues. Maybe Martinez is different, but when you’re a win-now team spending upwards of $400 million, this is not the risk you want to take.
For the Mets, their options should be sign Conforto, stand pat, or do something else. The answer is not J.D. Martinez, and really, they should avoid him at all costs. .