LOS ANGELES — The Dodgers made an effort to acquire JD Martinez from the Red Sox at the trade deadline, but the asking price never came down and a deal between the two teams never materialized.
More than four months later, the Dodgers got their guy. They have agreed to a one-year, $10 million deal with Martinez, a source told MLB.com. The deal, which is pending a physical, has not been confirmed by the club.
Adding Martinez, 35, gives the Dodgers some much-needed depth in the lineup, especially from the right side. He got off to a hot start last season and earned his fifth All-Star. Martinez’s production dipped in the second half, however, and he posted a .701 OPS after the All-Star break.
Overall, Martinez finished the year with a .790 OPS and had 43 doubles and 16 home runs. He was especially dangerous against left-handed pitching, posting a .998 OPS.
In Los Angeles, Martinez will be reunited with hitting coach Robert Van Scoyock, who worked extensively with designated hitters as a private instructor before taking a job in organized baseball.
Martinez will also be reunited with Mookie Betts, who, like Martinez, was instrumental in the Red Sox’ 2018 World Series run. The two players have often talked about how important their cage sessions are to each other’s success. They will be able to do it again in Los Angeles.
There won’t be many reps for Martinez at the defensive position next season, as the Dodgers are expected to use him strictly as a DH. Returning in 2018, Martinez has played just 137 games in the field and is a minus-12 above average. The Red Sox used him exclusively at DH last season, and his defense won’t get any better at age 35.
The addition of Martinez also makes it more difficult for the Dodgers to sign longtime third baseman Justin Turner, a right-handed batter. The Dodgers waived the $16 million club option on Turner earlier in the offseason.
Turner, 38, has long hoped to stay with the Dodgers, but has received offers from several teams and is still very much an offensive player. But at this stage in his career, he is viewed more as a designated hitter. Turner can certainly still handle some third base, but with Martinez now locking down bats from that position, especially against lefties, there may not be enough plate appearances for Turner.
The Dodgers have made it clear that Miguel Vargas will get plenty of playing time next season, another bad sign for Turner and a potential reunion. Los Angeles will remain in talks with Turner, however.
With the additions of Martinez and pitcher Noah Syndergaard in the past few days, the Dodgers’ payroll for next season is $210 million, still $23 million below the competitive balance tax threshold; a number the Dodgers would prefer to stay under next season. . The Dodgers, however, still have some roster holes they need to fill.
Los Angeles needs to add a left-handed bat, preferably for the outfield. If the Dodgers don’t add a center fielder in the trade, look for them to add a corner infielder and count on Betts to handle some center field duties. Now that Dansby Swanson is reportedly headed to the Cubs, it’s looking increasingly likely that Gavin Lux will be the starting shortstop next season.
The Dodgers still have work to do this winter, but they’ve had their eye on Martinez since the start of free agency. They got him on Saturday.