The Los Angeles Dodgers lost several longtime contributors in free agency this offseason, but they did make some notable additions, including former Boston Red Sox designated hitter J.D. Martinez, who signed a one-year, $10 million contract for the 2023 season.
The Dodgers reportedly tried to trade for the veteran slugger on multiple occasions, and he was recruited by former teammate Mookie Betts along with hitting coach Robert Van Scoyoc.
Martinez is coming off somewhat of a down season in which he batted .274/.341/.448 with 43 doubles, 16 home runs and 62 RBI in 139 games. He nevertheless earned a second consecutive All-Star Game selection and crushed left-handed pitching to the tune of a .319/.402/.597 batting line in 137 plate appearances.
While he fares better against opposing southpaws, manager Dave Roberts confirmed the plan is for Martinez to be the team’s full-time DH in the Dodgers lineup, per Bill Plunkett of the Southern California News Group:
Dave Roberts said his plan is to have JD Martinez in the #Dodgers lineup every day as the DH "versus right, versus left."
— Bill Plunkett (@billplunkettocr) February 16, 2023
The Dodgers making Martinez their primary DH is a different strategy from the one they have deployed since the National League began adopting the position.
The Dodgers previously used the spot in their lineup to rotate regular players as a means of providing them some rest, but now have seemingly locked themselves into a single DH on a nightly basis. Martinez has experience playing the outfield in his career, but didn’t do so at all during the 2022 season.
J.D. Martinez signed with Dodgers for chance to win World Series
Martinez’s agent Scott Boras said the 35-year-old took less money with the Dodgers for a chance to win the World Series. That notion was then conveyed by Martinez himself.
“I didn’t want to be on a team that was going to be rebuilding, or be on a team that was going to see where we were going, we don’t know how we’re going to be or we think we’re going to be good,” Martinez said at Mookie Betts’ charity bowling tournament.
“I want to be on a team that’s going to be in the running for it and that’s going to be right there come October. That was my main thing. That was literally my main focus. When I talked to Andrew on the phone, I said, ‘I’m doing this because I believe in you guys and I believe in you and the team you put on the field every year.’”
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