Friday, April 19, 2024

MLB rumors: Mets have ‘mutual’ interest with J.D. Martinez as free-agent DH remains on the market

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Jordan Montgomery and Blake Snell are not the only big-name free agents who remain unsigned with Opening Day two weeks away. J.D. Martinez, who is coming off a 33-homer season, remains on the market, and there is mutual interest with the New York Mets, reports the New York Post. The Los Angeles Angels are also in the mix for the six-time All-Star.

For the Mets, 2024 is expected to be something of a transition year in which development takes priority over contention. Mark Vientos is the primary candidate to get DH at-bats this year, though he is 6 for 31 (.194) with eight strikeouts this spring, and his 65-game big league cameo last season produced a .205/.255/.354 batting line and a worrisome 30.5% strikeout rate.

FanGraphs estimates New York’s competitive balance tax payroll at $328.3 million, the highest in baseball and well above the $297 million “Steven Cohen tax” threshold. Because this will be their third straight year paying CBT, the Mets are taxed 110% on every dollar above $297 million. So, for example, a $15 million contract for Martinez would cost another $16.5 million in tax.

Martinez reportedly rejected a one-year, $14 million contract offer from the San Francisco Giants in the offseason. The Giants then pivoted to Jorge Soler to solve their DH needs. Like Montgomery and Snell, Martinez is a Scott Boras client, though the 36-year-old DH is not in position to demand a long-term contract like the two prime-aged left-handers.

After a five-season run with the Boston Red Sox, Martinez spent 2023 with the Los Angeles Dodgers, and he batted cleanup in the All-Star Game last summer. He remains a premium power threat and run producer, though Martinez ran a .321 on-base percentage last year, so his offensive game is becoming more one-dimensional.

Four players started at least 10 games at DH for the Mets last year, led by Daniel Vogelbach’s 78. The Mets received a .220/.312/.403 line from their DHs in 2023, comfortably below the .245/.326/.430 league average at the position.

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