9:21am: The discussions were held during the GM Meetings and “have yet to advance beyond [the] initial stage,” Morosi adds on Twitter.
8:27am: The Giants and Tigers have discussed the possibility of a swap that would send power-hitting outfielder J.D. Martinez out west, according to Jon Morosi of MLB Network (via Twitter). Detroit has been said to be willing to consider deals involving all its veteran assets, so news of the discussions is hardly surprising. As things stand, there’s no reason to believe there’s any particular momentum toward a transaction.
Entering his final year of team control, Martinez is a clear trade candidate, particularly since the Tigers have made clear they won’t pursue an extension with him. Martinez is owed $11.75MM this year as part of the two-year contract he signed last winter to buy out his remaining arbitration years. Though Detroit is looking to trim salary in the long run, that doesn’t mean it couldn’t keep him for one more run. But the reasonable salary and short commitment also make Martinez a highly appealing trade chip, which the Tigers could use to boost their efforts to develop a younger and more cost-efficient roster.
Martinez has turned himself into one of the game’s premier power hitters since joining the Tigers as a minor league free agent just before the 2014 season. Since that time, he owns a .299/.357/.540 slash line and has hit 83 home runs in 1,654 plate appearances. Though Martinez missed time last year after suffering a freak elbow fracture, he returned as good as ever. While metrics liked his glovework in right field in 2015, they were way down on him last season, and Martinez has never rated well on the basepaths. Despite those questions, the bat does plenty to carry his value, and Martinez only just turned 29.
Martinez has batted a combined .299/.357/.540 over the past three years and averaged 34 homers per 162 games played along the way. He missed nearly two months of the 2016 season with a fracture in his elbow but was improbably even better after his time on the DL, slashing .332/.392/.553 with 10 homers over his final 232 plate appearances (albeit with the help of an unsustainable .418 BABIP).
The fit with the Giants makes a good bit of sense on paper — at least, that is, if San Francisco is willing to cough up enough of interest to get something done. Certainly, the need is there, as the club has an opening in left field and surely wouldn’t mind filling it with another big bat. With several significant long-term contracts on the books, though, and the possibility of a second Madison Bumgarner extension on the horizon, there would seem to be appeal in a one-year obligation.
Parting with young talent always hurts, but there are countervailing considerations at play here. Dealing for Martinez would deliver a team exclusive negotiating rights with him until he reaches free agency, so there’s always the possibility of striking a lengthier accord at a more appealing price than could be found on the open market. And then there’s the fact that he’d be an obvious qualifying offer candidate next winter, which would open the door to draft compensation, although ongoing collective bargaining talks inject some uncertainty into that consideration.