The trade deadline is just a couple of weeks away and we’re well on our way to hearing way too many rumors about who the Dodgers might be interested in picking up to bolster their roster for the stretch drive and the playoffs. One of the most interesting rumors is the Dodgers/Tigers connection.
The Tigers are having a dreadful season and have several players that have been tied to the Dodgers. The Justin Verlander rumor has been swirling for a while now. Reliever Justin Wilson would be a great pick-up, but the player that piques my attention the most is outfielder J.D. Martinez.
Let’s get one thing straight. It’s extremely unlikely that the Dodgers will make any kind of deal with the Tigers for any of their available players. The front office has not only show an unwillingness to acquire expensive veterans via trade, but they usually only trade with their former clubs. If somehow Verlander or Martinez were sent to the A’s or suddenly started wearing a little stingray with a sunshine sparkle on their uniforms then I could believe that there was a possibility of them coming to the Dodgers.
About Verlander, I don’t want him. He’s old with a history of injuries over the last few years and he’s in decline. He’s also expensive. But the main reason I don’t care for him is because he’s not pitching well this year. His career seems to be winding down and I’m not sure how much longer he’ll be pitching. He’s had a long and successful career, but you know father time gets everyone at some point.
What about J.D. Martinez? He’s a great hitter without question, but where would he fit into the Dodger lineup? The problem here is that Martinez is a corner outfielder. Despite what some people think, Yasiel Puig isn’t going anywhere. Neither is center fielder Joc Pederson. So with Puig and Joc entrenched in their respective positions, the only other spot for Martinez to fit would be in left field. Especially since Martinez doesn’t play center.
The Dodgers have had problems in left field. Andrew Toles suffered a season ending injury and Andre Ethier hasn’t played all year because of a bad back. Putting Chris Taylor in left field was more because they didn’t really have anyone else to put there then an experiment.
With little to no other options (you didn’t really want to see Scott Van Slyke there anyways, come on tell the truth) The Dodgers stuck Taylor in left and hoped for the best. Things worked out pretty well for the Dodgers because Taylor is having a career year and playing unbelievably well. The guy has worked hard and elevated his game. He’s been terrific and it would be really hard to bump him from the starting lineup and put him on the bench because there’s no other spot for him.
Then again Martinez is a really good hitter and having him in the lineup would make us drool. That might put the Dodgers over the top in October. But you want to keep Taylor in the lineup? Fair enough. He’s been awesome no doubt. Perhaps we could move Taylor to second base and put Martinez in left. The only problem is that pushes Logan Forsythe to the bench and he’s been hitting really well of late too. Darn it. This is what I like to call a quality problem. The Dodgers have too many great hitters this season.
The question becomes would Martinez really be that much of an upgrade over Taylor? We would have to compare their numbers this season to determine that, so let’s do it.
Martinez-.298/.379/.602 (57 for 191) 14 home runs 32 RBI-.981 OPS- 157 OPS+
Man just look at those numbers. Martinez has a lot of power, slugging 14 home runs and 28 extra-base hits. That means about half of his hits have been for extra bases. Not only that, but he has good on-base skills. He does strike out a lot, but most power hitters do. He comes in with a 157 OPS+ which is very good. He’s a productive hitter and any team would be happy to have him in their lineup.
Taylor – .289/.370/.482 (72 for 249) 10 home runs 38 RBI – .852 OPS – 124 OPS+
Yeah Martinez is good, but Taylor’s numbers are almost just as good. Taylor has more hits, and almost as many home runs as Martinez. He walks more, is more versatile and runs the bases better. If we delve a little deeper we see that Martinez out performs Taylor (159 wRC+ to 129 wRC+) however Taylor’s line drive percentage is better (27.7% to Martinez’s (21.1%). Taylor has struck out more than Martinez, but he’s more of a line drive in the gaps type of a hitter while Martinez is more of a pure power guy.
Then there’s that versatility thing. Martinez can only play two positions while Taylor plays all over the diamond. Taylor is definitely the better defender by a large margin. Martinez does come with some injury baggage as he had a foot injury in the beginning of the season.
The money shouldn’t matter since the Dodgers are the riches team in baseball but Martinez is making 11.5 million dollars this season and would be a free agent this winter. He would be a rental. Would the Tigers require the Dodgers to take Verlander’s contract in order to get Martinez? What would the Tigers want in return via prospects? Would you move Alex Verdugo? Or perhaps Walker Buehler to get him?
Martinez is a good hitter but could come with an expensive price tag via prospects and other bad contracts. Taylor has been great and there would only be one open position for Martinez. There is a worry that Taylor could turn back into a pumpkin but so far it’s not looking like that. The Dodgers are winning and have the best record in baseball. I’m a big supporter of chemistry. I think if it aint’ broken then don’t fix it?
What’s your take?