LOS ANGELES — At the Trade Deadline, the Dodgers pushed hard to land JD Martinez from the Red Sox, but the asking price never lowered and a deal between the two teams never came to fruition.
More than four months later, the Dodgers got their guy. They reached agreement on a one-year, $10 million deal with Martinez, a source told MLB.com. The deal, which is pending the completion of a physical, has not been confirmed by the club.
Adding the 35-year-old Martinez gives the Dodgers some much-needed depth in the lineup, particularly from the right side. He got off to a hot start last season and earned his fifth All-Star honor. In the second half, however, Martinez’s production diminished, and he posted a .701 OPS after the All-Star break.
Overall, Martinez finished the year with a .790 OPS and had 43 doubles and 16 home runs. He was especially dangerous against left-handed pitching, posting a .998 OPS.
In LA, Martinez will be reunited with hitting coach Robert Van Scoyoc, who worked extensively with the designated hitter as a private instructor before getting employment in organized baseball.
Martinez also will be reunited with Mookie Betts, who, like Martinez, was crucial to the Red Sox’s 2018 World Series championship. The two players have often talked about how important their cage sessions were to each other’s success. They’ll be able to do that again in Los Angeles.
There won’t be many reps for Martinez defensively next season, as the Dodgers are expected to use him strictly as a DH. Going back to 2018, Martinez has logged only 137 games in the outfield and has posted minus-12 outs above average. Last season, the Red Sox used him exclusively at DH, and his defense won’t be getting any better at 35.
The addition of Martinez also makes it more challenging for the Dodgers to sign longtime third baseman Justin Turner, a right-handed batter. The Dodgers declined a $16 million club option on Turner at the start of the offseason.
Turner, 38, has long hoped to stay with the Dodgers but has received offers from a handful of teams and is still a very serviceable offensive player. But at this stage of his career, he is viewed more as a designated hitter. Turner can still, undoubtedly, handle some third base, but with Martinez now locking up at-bats from that position, especially against lefties, there might not be enough plate appearances for Turner.
The Dodgers have made it clear that Miguel Vargas will get plenty of playing time next season, another bad sign for Turner and a potential reunion. Los Angeles will remain in conversations with Turner, however.
With the additions of Martinez and pitcher Noah Syndergaard over the past few days, the Dodgers’ payroll projection for next season is at $210 million, still $23 million below the Competitive Balance Tax threshold — a number the Dodgers would prefer to stay under next season . The Dodgers, however, still have a few holes on the roster that they need to fill.
LA needs to add a left-handed bat, preferably for the outfield. If the Dodgers don’t add a center fielder in the trade market, look for them to add a corner outfielder and rely on Betts to handle some of the responsibilities in center field. Now that Dansby Swanson is reportedly headed to the Cubs, it is becoming increasingly likely that Gavin Lux will be the starting shortstop next season.
The Dodgers have work remaining this winter, but they had their eyes on Martinez since the start of free agency. They got him on Saturday.