The Mets have “some interest” in Tigers outfielder J.D. Martinez, according to Jon Heyman of Fan Rag. Martinez would reportedly be viewed as a “fall-back option” in the event that New York isn’t able to bring back free agent Yoenis Cespedes.
Martinez, 29, could be on the block as Detroit seeks to streamline its roster. Though he’s young and carries an outstanding recent track record of offensive production, he’s also entering his final season of team control. The Tigers say they aren’t interested in pursuing a new contract, possibly making Martinez a nice trade chip.
Certainly, it’s far from clear that the Mets will be willing to meet what’s likely to be a fairly lofty asking price for Martinez — assuming, of course, that Cespedes lands elsewhere (which is no sure thing). Though the organization would surely like the idea of avoiding a lengthy entanglement while maintaining the same kind of middle-of-the-order threat, it has already dealt away several important pieces of the farm for short-term gains in recent years. (That includes, of course, the swap that originally brought Cespedes to New York, which came at the cost of talented righty Michael Fulmer.)
What’s most interesting about the report, perhaps, is that it reinforces the idea that New York will look hard for a right-handed-hitting power bat in the outfield even if Cespedes does not return. That was far from clear last summer, when the Mets traded for the left-handed-hitting Jay Bruce, who joins Curtis Granderson and Michael Conforto as southpaw-swinging corner outfield options. While Juan Lagares remains on hand as a righty bat who can play center, it seems the organization sees it as a rather high priority to add some pop from that side of the plate.
To be sure, that’s not exactly a new concept: the Mets have been linked previously to players such as Jose Bautista as theoretical back-up plans to Cespedes. Heyman also notes that there are other theoretical trade candidates who could hold appeal, including Ryan Braun and Andrew McCutchen. The seriousness of the pursuit of a Cespedes alternative could be a critical component of the offseason for GM Sandy Alderson, who could also look to deal one of the lefties (Bruce, in particular, has been tied to trade chatter) to clear roster and payroll space.