HomeTeamsMetsJ.D. Martinez Deal Was Too Good To Pass On

J.D. Martinez Deal Was Too Good To Pass On

Because J.D. Martinez apparently wanted to play for the Mets enough to defer more than half the $12M contract. Steve Cohen and David Stearns just couldn’t say no. Martinez signed a one-year deal that will pay him $4.5M in 2024 and push forward the balance of the contract payout with $1.5M per year deferred from to 2034-38. That’s not Shohei Ohtani creative but creative none-the-less.

Martinez’ signing means Mark Vientos will be the odd man out. Vientos has not had a good spring despite clubbing four home runs. He’s struck out 17 times in 54 Plate Appearances, slashing .212/.241/.481 which is not good, as well as an OPD of .722 which is about MLB regular season average. It’s clear that Met management no longer believes in or trusts Mark Vientos and whatever trade value Vientos may have had prior to the Martinez signing, is less today than it was before yesterday.

Is there still a way Vientos can contribute to the 2024 Mets?

It’s hard to see how Mark Vientos will even be on the Mets opening day roster. There are only so many slots available for non-starters which is what Vientos will be. As a bench player Vientos who is a subpar defensive player who offers little. He bats right-handed, same as J.D. Martinez, and both hit lefties well.  Since Martinez also does not play in the field it would be surprising to have two players on the roster that do not play in the field. The Mets tried that last year with Daniel Vogelbach and Vientos.

J.D. Martinez is still a very dangerous hitter

Martinez was an All-Star the past three seasons. His 2023 OPS was .899 and OPS+ 134 (his career OPS+ is 133) which means he was 34% better than the league-average player in 2023.

J.D.’s ability to mentor young players is not unimportant and was one of the reasons the Mets were in conversation with Martinez’ representation all winter long. In the short term the Mets appear to be a better team with Martinez in the lineup and the clubhouse than they are with Mark Vientos (even though he is well-liked by his teammates).

Steve Cohen and David Stearns are decisive

The drumbeat of J.D. Martinez’s free-agent status was seemingly endless. The Mets were not all that interested in taking on Martinez and kicking up the luxury tax penalties that came with signing and paying him $12M in one season. Once the contract terms became more interesting AND Mark Vientos neglected to inspire confidence from the front office, signing J.D. Martinez became too good a deal to pass up. It suggests that the doubts about Vientos the Mets have had all along became too much to ignore when the deal for Martinez became much more attractive.

Mets players probably won’t say much about the move other than J.D. Martinez is a great ballplayer, and that they look forward to having him on the team. But you can also bet that Francisco Lindor and Pete Alonso and the rest of the Met batters are thrilled about the new lineup protection to be provided by Martinez.

You can’t help but feel bad for Vientos who will now likely have to find his way into a regular MLB lineup for another team. Teams and fans of teams always have a way of valuing their own home-grown talent higher than do other organizations. The Mets traded Jared Kelenic and Pete Crow-Armstrong both of whom were highly drafted and highly regarded. To date, while both are still young, neither has done anything at the MLB level to make the Mets wish they hadn’t traded them. That may change this season, but Steve Cohen and David Stearns are proving to be unsentimental about how the team will be constructed. That’s a reason why Pete Alonso will have to wait for a big contract offer from the Mets. It’s a more ruthless but maybe that’s what it takes now to run a consistently successful MLB team.

Brett Baty should take notice.

Mark Kolier
Mark Kolierhttps://mlbreport.com/
Mark Kolier along with his son Gordon co-hosts a baseball podcast called ‘Almost Cooperstown’. He also has written baseball-related articles that can be accessed on Medium.com, Substack.com and now MLBReport.com.


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