If the first 10 days of J.D. Martinez’s baseball career in the desert is any indication of how the rest of his tenure in an Arizona Diamondbacks uniform will go, the home club’s chances of making the postseason just skyrocketed.
Over the final two-plus months of the 2017 season, we’ll hopefully enjoy more timely hits and monster home runs. Like the two he hit against Atlanta on Wednesday and that grand slam he smacked over the right field wall in St. Louis yesterday.
We’ll likely be awed by his light-tower power, too, and his innate ability to strikeout.
We may not, however, enjoy his defense in right field, or his lackluster effort in running down to first base after the opposing catcher drops a strikeout pitch.
In his defense, that happened in his first game as a Diamondback, just 24 hours after uprooting his life from Detroit to join the club. He’s still currently living in a Scottsdale hotel and driving a rental car, by the way, while friends and family continue to mail boxes of belongings from his Detroit apartment.
But let’s be honest here, folks. Martinez, likely the only player in Major League Baseball to have his entire name sewn onto the back of his jersey, is a rental player.
At age 29, the former 36th round pick out of Charles Flanagan High School in Pembroke Pines, Florida, is set to become a free agent once the World Series comes to a close in October.
I highly doubt the Diamondbacks are willing to pay what he’ll command on the free agent market, likely in the ballpark of $20-plus million per year for at least five to seven years, give or take a few bucks, and years of course.
Several days before the July 18 trade that brought the 6-foot-3, 220-pound outfielder to Arizona, rumors swirled he was being shopped by the Tigers.
At first I didn’t think general manager Mike Hazen had enough players on the farm to entice the Tigers. I still think they don’t, but these days, rental bats aren’t as popular and the majority of baseball thinking now says: “Stand firm, for better or worse. Don’t sell the farm.”
With that, Hazen basically acquired a premier right-handed bat for a bag of chips and a coke. He’s currently hitting .300 with 20 home runs and 50 RBIs to go along with his stunning 1.036 OPS. Than surround David Peralta, A.J. Pollock, Jake Lamb and Paul Goldschmidt around him? Look out!
Dawel Lugo, 22, was rated the No. 4 prospect in Arizona’s farm system by Baseball America. Hazen sent him packing and before he stepped off the plane in Detroit, immediately fell to No. 12 in the Tigers’ minor league ranks, basically revealing what everyone already knew: Arizona’s crop of talent in the minor leagues is below average, at best. I also assumed when the trade was complete that the Diamondbacks were no closer to bringing Yasmany Tomas back than they were a month ago. On Thursday, they put him on the 60-day disabled list, all but assuring we won’t see him until spring training 2018.
So enjoy Martinez while it lasts, Diamondbacks fans. If he helps us get to the World Series, we won’t care of his part-time status any more than we care for the new chicken enchilada dog at Chase Field.
Brian M. Bergner Jr. is associate sports editor and a columnist for The Daily Courier. Follow him on Twitter, Instagram, Periscope and SoundCloud at @SportsWriter52, or on Facebook at @SportsAboveTheFold. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 928-445-3333, ext. 1106.