Legends On Deck

The Tigers Part Ways with JD Martinez

It should be no surprise that JD Martinez was the first Tigers player to be moved.  The immediate reaction to the trade from fans and writers can be summed up in one word; underwhelmed.  Here is a closer look:

JD Martinez had a strong, short career in Detroit.  The Tigers took a risk on Martinez in the Spring of 2014; he had been cut by the Houston Astros following the 2013 season.  He became an immediate impact player in the lineup, putting up 23 HRs, 76 RBIs with a .315 BA in just 123 games.  By 2015, Martinez represented the club in the All-Star Game, putting up 38 HRs and 103 RBIs, batting .282 for the season.  In 2016, he missed 42 games with injuries, but still managed 22 HRs and 68 RBIs.  He missed nearly a month and a half of the 2017 season with a foot injury, but has since been among the hottest bats in all of baseball.  Yet, as the Tigers overall performance dwindled over the the month of June, JD’s name has been circulating as perhaps the best hitter available on the trade market.  At least a half dozen clubs were rumored to have expressed interest.

His arrival in Arizona should increase their playoff chances.  While the Dodgers seem to be running away with the NL West (10.5 game advantage), the Diamondbacks currently have slight lead for the first Wild Card spot over the Rockies, with the Cubs 5.5 back.  Adding Martinez in with sluggers Paul Goldschmidt and Jake Lamb makes for a dangerous middle of the lineup heading into the final two months of the season.  

What did the Tigers get in return?  Most noted is 22 year old infielder, Dawel Lugo, currently hitting .282 with 7 HRs, 43 RBIs, 21 doubles and four triples at Double-A Jacksonville.  Lugo has played both SS and 3B and GM Al Avila sees him as about two years out from the Majors.  He’s been ranked in the top five among D-Backs prospects.  Others include 21 year old SS/2B Sergio Alcantara, currently batting .279 at Advanced-A Visalia in the California League and 18 year old Rookie League infielder, Jose King.  

What can Tigers fans make of this?  First, fans and writers seem less than thrilled with the return on trading Martinez.  And frankly, with all the rumors and speculation on him being the hottest rental bat on the market, the trade does seem to fall short.  That being said, with his contract set to expire at season’s end, Martinez is going to hit the free agent market in a matter of months.  Time will tell what becomes of Lugo, Alcantara and King.   

What’s next?  Al Avila will have to stay active on the trade market, now that he’s taken the first major move.  Justin Wilson will likely be next.  The good news is, bullpen help should yield the highest return.  The Rays and Red Sox have shown interest in the past several days.  The Tigers and Cubs have also reportedly been in talks regarding Alex Avila.  

Tigers fans will miss JD Martinez, but he has simply been caught in the cross hairs of a franchise in transition.  

Brian Koss

Brian Koss

Brian grew up in the suburbs of Detroit, MI where he spent his childhood playing organized baseball, pick-up games, collecting baseball cards, listening to his grandfather's stories about the 1930s Pittsburgh Pirates, drafting fantasy baseball teams and attending Tigers games. His dad, who coached his teams, weaved family trips around ballpark visits. A diehard Detroit Tigers (and Lions) fan, Brian and his wife (a Real Estate team) are raising their two children near Orlando. Brian helps coach his daughter's tee-ball team, working to pass along his love of the game.
Brian Koss