HomeMLB RumorsMets To Sign J.D. Martinez

Mets To Sign J.D. Martinez

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The Mets are in agreement with J.D. Martinez on a one-year, $12MM contract, reports Jon Heyman of the New York Post (X link). The deal, which is pending a physical, has a net present value that will come in below $12MM on account of deferrals.

Andy Martino of SNY reports (on X) that the Mets will only pay $4.5MM of the salary this year. The remaining $7.5MM will be paid in $1.5MM annual installments between 2034-38. Martinez is a client of the Boras Corporation.

Martinez, 36, was the best unsigned offensive player. After signing a $10MM free agent deal with the Dodgers last offseason, he earned his sixth All-Star nod amidst a 33-homer campaign. That was his highest home run total since 2019, while his .271/.321/.572 batting line was also his best overall offensive production in four years. Martinez hadn’t been a bad hitter over the intervening three seasons, but last year’s work was a step up from the cumulative .269/.336/.469 slash he had posted in his final three seasons with the Red Sox.

Strong as that production was, it didn’t come without red flags. Martinez’s pure contact skills regressed as his profile became more dependent on power. He struck out in more than 31% of his plate appearances, the highest rate of his career. Martinez made contact on a below-average 67.5% of his swings, the first time that he whiffed on more than 30% of his cuts.

That’s not a problem so long as he continues to destroy the ball when he does make contact. Martinez certainly did that last season. More than 54% of his batted balls came off the bat at 95+ MPH. That’s his best hard contact percentage since Statcast began tracking in 2015. The huge exit velocities manifested in Martinez’s slugging production.

While the bat speed remains intact, the increase in whiffs seemed to lead to some trepidation around the league. His profile is entirely built on offense. Martinez was never a great defender, but he’s almost exclusively a designated hitter at this point. He has started one game on defense over the last two seasons, logging 12 innings in the corner outfield overall.

The lack of a position was perhaps the main reason Martinez spent much time in free agency at all. On the surface, he’d have been a reasonable candidate for a $20.325MM qualifying offer from the Dodgers. Los Angeles decided not to risk that early in an offseason in which they would (successfully) pursue Shohei Ohtani, though. Martinez doesn’t come attached to draft compensation as a result.

That kicked off four and a half months on the open market for the three-time Silver Slugger winner. The Giants reportedly made an offer in the $14-15MM range at one point this offseason, but his camp turned that down. It’s not known if San Francisco’s proposal would have included any deferrals, but the ultimate deal which Martinez accepted comes in south of that previous offer before considering the delayed payments.

For the past few weeks, his free agency has seemed to be a staring contest between his camp and the Mets. Teams like the Angels and Marlins reportedly showed late interest, but no club was more consistently tied to him than New York. Ultimately, Martinez’s ask dipped to a place where the Mets felt compelled to jump and plug him into the middle of the batting order. He’ll join Pete Alonso as a scary duo of righty power bats for opposing pitchers.

The Mets didn’t get much out of the designated hitter position a year ago. Their DH group hit .217/.309/.391 with 27 homers. They finished in the bottom third of the league in all three slash stats. Martinez should be a clear step up even if he continues to strike out at an elevated clip. New York has maintained they still expect to hang in the Wild Card mix this year despite viewing the 2025 season as the start of their next true contention window.

Part of that balancing act was figuring out how much trust to put in their young hitters, namely Brett Baty and Mark Vientos. They entered camp with Baty penciled in as the primary third baseman and Vientos set for the majority of at-bats at DH. Adding Martinez closes off the latter path to playing time. Baty and Vientos could now compete for work at third base. Baty hits left-handed, while Vientos bats from the right side. That could allow first-year skipper Carlos Mendoza to play match-ups if they’re each on the roster, although both players have an option remaining and could be sent to Triple-A without landing on waivers.

The Mets are subject to the highest luxury tax fees possible under the CBA. They’re past the $297MM mark that’s the highest penalization threshold; they’ve paid the CBT in three consecutive years. As a result, they’re charged a 110% fee on future expenditures. The deferred money reduces the net present value of Martinez’s contract, so it’s not yet clear precisely how much the Mets will owe in CBT commitments.

A one-year, $12MM deal without any deferred money would’ve come with $13.2MM in luxury taxes. RosterResource’s Jon Becker estimates that the NPV of Martinez’s deal will land just under $9MM. That’d come with a little less than $10MM in luxury obligations.

Image courtesy of USA Today Sports.


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