After a relatively quiet start to the offseason, the Los Angeles Dodgers made their most notable splash last week when they reportedly agreed to terms with J.D. Martinez on a one-year, $10 million contract.
Among others, Martinez is now set to reunite with Mookie Betts. They played two seasons together with the Boston Red Sox, including in 2018 when the team defeated the Dodgers to win the World Series.
Martinez has been credited for helping Betts and other young Red Sox hitters improve through conversations in and around the batting cage. Unsurprisingly, Betts is said to have played a key role in Martinez deciding to sign with the Dodgers.
Dodgers hitting coach Robert Van Scoyoc also has history with Martinez and recruited him during the free agency process as well, via Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated:
The Dodgers are terrific at identifying underachieving players and bringing out the best in them. That thinking defines their entire offseason shopping list: DH J.D. Martinez (at the urging of Betts and hitting coach Robert Van Scoyoc), infielder Yonny Hernández, outfielders Bradley Zimmer and Heyward, and pitchers Noah Syndergaard, Shelby Miller and J.P. Feyereisen. All of them are projects.
Martinez previously worked with Van Scoyoc on an individual basis and helped him become one of the sport’s top designated hitters.
The 35-year-old experienced some regression this past season but earned a second consecutive and fifth overall All-Star Game selection behind a .274/.341/.448 batting line with 43 doubles, 16 home runs and 62 RBI.
Martinez presumably will be the Dodgers’ everyday designated hitter, which is a vastly different strategy from the one they’ve deployed since the universal DH was implemented.
The Dodgers previously preferred to use 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.
J.D. Martinez to make MLB history after hitting 4 home runs against Dodgers
When Martinez’s signing becomes official, he will join Chuck Klein as the only players in MLB history to hit four home runs against a team and then play for them.
Martinez accomplished the feat on September 4, 2017, as a member of the Arizona Diamondbacks. He homered against Rich Hill, Pedro Báez, Josh Fields and Wilmer Font in the historic effort.
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