6:52pm: According to NBC Sports Bay Area’s Alex Pavlovic, the Giants made an offer to Martinez while they were already in talks with Soler and Martinez’s camp made a counteroffer that San Francisco brass “weren’t comfortable with.” The specifics of both the club’s offer to Martinez and Martinez’s counteroffer remain unclear, though Pavlovic’s report seems to indicate that Martinez’s apparent lack of interest in San Francisco may have had more to do with the deal’s value than soft factors such as geography or club competitiveness.
12:04pm: The Giants made J.D. Martinez a contract offer at some point this offseason prior to the team’s deal with Jorge Soler, the New York Post’s Jon Heyman reports. Martinez rejected the offer because he “didn’t want to go there,” Heyman writes, which could indicate any number of concerns (roster fit, playing time, geography, etc.) beyond perhaps any misgivings about the value or nature of the deal the Giants put on the table.
It is safe to assume that San Francisco didn’t offer Martinez anything akin to the three years and $42MM that Soler received, given that Martinez is entering his age-36 season and is four and a half years older than Soler. That said, the two players have similar profiles as right-handed hitters with defensive limitations in the field. Martinez is essentially a DH-only player at this point in his career, and the bulk of Soler’s time in the Marlins’ 2023 lineup was spent as a designated hitter.
Though Martinez has had more streakiness and variance in his performance as he has aged, he has still been the more consistent hitter than the notoriously inconsistent Soler. Both players were All-Stars and 33-homer hitters in 2023 and had interestingly similar numbers, as Martinez had a 135 wRC+ while hitting .271/.321/.572 in 479 plate appearances for the Dodgers and Soler hit .250/.341/.512 over 580 PA with Miami. Martinez’s playing time was limited by groin and back problems, and Soler had much better walk and strikeout rates than Martinez, even if Soler’s 24.3 K% was still below average.
Soler and Martinez weren’t far apart on MLBTR’s list of the offseason’s top 50 free agents, as Soler was ranked 16th and Martinez 20th. The age gap was one of the determining factors in the differing rankings, and we predicted a smaller annual average value for Soler (with a three-year, $45MM projection) than Martinez (two years, $40MM). Of course, it now seems entirely possible that Martinez will end up falling behind Soler in AAV given that we’re in the last week of February and Martinez still remains unsigned.
The Blue Jays, Mets, Angels, and Diamondbacks have all been linked to Martinez’s market at various points this winter, though Toronto and Arizona have since already added other veteran bats (i.e. Justin Turner, Joc Pederson, Randal Grichuk) for the DH role and no longer seem like fits. MLBTR’s Anthony Franco recently broke down possibilities for Martinez’s next landing spot and listed the Mets and Angels as still the most logical destinations based on team need, even if both clubs have indicated they would prefer to use the DH spot to cycle many players through the lineup. Heyman suggested the Rangers as a possible candidate for Martinez, though Texas also has a lot of promising up-and-comers in need of at-bats.
Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi has been generally conservative with free agent expenditures during his five-plus years in charge of San Francisco’s front office. As the Contract Tracker indicates, this winter’s signings of Jung Ho Lee and Jordan Hicks marked the first time that Zaidi signed a player to a deal of four or more years. Speculatively speaking, it seems plausible that Zaidi first checked on the possibility of signing Martinez or another known Giants target in Rhys Hoskins before agreeing to go to three years to land Soler.
From Martinez’s end, we don’t know enough about the Giants’ offer to gauge whether or not he might’ve erred in not accepting the deal, or if accepting it at some unspecified earlier point would’ve taken him off the market much earlier. However, if Martinez just wasn’t interested in playing for the Giants in particular, money might not have been the issue whatsoever.