Belmont Stakes

J.D. Martinez finally finds a home, reportedly agrees to 1-year, $12 million deal with Mets

J.D. Martinez finally finds a home, reportedly agrees to 1-year, $12 million deal with Mets

J.D. Martinez was a great hitter for the Dodgers last season. They decided they would rather have Shohei Ohtani. (Photo by Brandon Sloter/Getty Images)

J.D. Martinez's long free agency, one of many this offseason, has come to a close.

The veteran designated hitter reportedly agreed Thursday to a 1-year, $12 million deal with the New York Mets, according to the New York Post's Jon Heyman.

Martinez was one of four notable Scott Boras clients to take their contract negotiations into March, when spring training is in full swing and teams are focused on preparing for the season. Martinez, Blake Snell, Jordan Montgomery and Matt Chapman all entered the offseason with high hopes for their next contracts and then went months without a deal.

Snell and Chapman have since signed with the San Francisco Giants, while Montgomery remains a free agent. There is only one week remaining until MLB's stateside Opening Day.

In the case of the 36-year-old Martinez, he was likely pursuing the smallest deal of the group, but not many teams had openings that he easily fit as a designated hitter.

J.D. Martinez seems like a good fit for the Mets

A return to the Dodgers initially seemed like the easiest move for Martinez after a bounce-back season with the NL West champions, but that was dependent on their not signing Shohei Ohtani to fill the DH spot. Which they did. At great expense.

Even as an older player, Martinez can still hit the ball as well as nearly anyone in baseball. Per Baseball Savant, his average exit velocity and hard-hit percentage were both in the 98th percentile in MLB last season, but his peripherals contained some red flags that likely limited his market.

Never a guy who sells power for contact, Martinez was 10th percentile or worse in whiff rate and strikeout rate in 2023, with a chase rate (28th percentile) that wasn't much better. He posted the second-lowest line-drive rate of his career at 24.3%. He was still a great hitter, but teams might not have liked the idea of investing an eight-figure sum to bet on his continuing to defy Father Time.

For Martinez, the Mets seem like a good fit in roster construction, if not timeline. The team is in something of a transition year after face-planting in 2023 and trading away Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander, but the Mets should still be in contention for a wild-card spot this season. Entering Thursday, they had names such as Mark Vientos on track to DH. Martinez represents a significant upgrade there.

Regardless, Martinez has continued to have a fascinating career, one that saw him go from being released by the Houston Astros in 2014 to earning six All-Star selections, three Silver Sluggers and a World Series ring with the Red Sox in 2018. Now he's on to a new chapter in New York.

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