While the Los Angeles Dodgers continue to pursue Shohei Ohtani in free agency, the run the risk of potentially missing out on J.D. Martinez as well if they were to fall short for the two-way superstar.
If the Dodgers do sign Ohtani, who may receive a contract close to $600 million, he will slot into the lineup as their designated hitter. Ohtani is going to be limited to hitting for all of the 2024 season while he recovers from what’s believed to have been a second Tommy John surgery.
From the onset of free agency, Martinez was mentioned as a fallback option for the DH role in the Dodgers lineup if they miss out on Ohtani.
There’s yet to be much publicly reported about Martinez’s market, but the Arizona Diamondbacks have interest in him and Justin Turner, according to Jim Bowden of The Athletic:
The #Diamondbacks have internally discussed and have potential interest in both Justin Turner and JD Martinez for the DH spot of their lineup. Either one would be a great fit at the plate and in the clubhouse ‼️⚾️
— Jim Bowden⚾️🏈 (@JimBowdenGM) December 4, 2023
Last offseason the Dodgers seemingly decided to sign Martinez to a one-year, $10 million contract rather than re-signing Turner, who was viewed as a clubhouse leader and pillar in the franchise.
Martinez had a bounce-back year with the Dodgers and has put himself in position to sign a multi-year contract in a second consecutive offseason of being a free agent.
Martinez was named the starting DH for the National League in the 2023 All-Star Game and finished the year batting .271/.321/.572 with 33 home runs, 103 RBI, 61 runs scored and a 135 wRC+.
He attributed some of the turnaround to reuniting with Dodgers hitting coach Robert Van Scoyoc and Mookie Betts. Similarly, Betts credited Martinez for being a driving force behind his MVP-caliber season.
If the Diamondback sign Martinez, it will mark a reunion as he played for the team during the 2017 season. Martinez hit three home runs against the Dodgers in Game 1 of the National League Division Series.
Qualifying offer not extended to J.D. Martinez
Although Martinez had a productive season this year, it did not amount to being extended a qualifying offer for 2024.
The qualifying offer is worth $20.35 million, which would have signed Martinez to that value for one year had it been extended by the Dodgers and he accepted. If he declined, the Dodgers would have set themselves up to receive draft pick compensation if Martinez signs elsewhere.
To no surprise, the Dodgers decided against potentially locking themselves into Martinez as their DH due to the qualifying offer deadline coming much earlier than Ohtani’s decision ultimately will.
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