Breaking Down the J.D. Martinez Trade

(Photo: Robin Buckson, Detroit News)

Only moments after people were finishing their day of work, cell phones were sending notifications about the most recent trade in the MLB.  J.D. Martinez has officially passed all of his physicals and the trade has been confirmed by the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Detroit Tigers as they shipped off J.D. Martinez to Arizona for a package of Dawel Lugo, Sergio Alcantara, & Jose King, all of which are infield prospects..  Social media promptly exploded as the price for Martinez was announced.

This seemed like pennies on the dollar for one of the best hitters against lefties this year.  J.D. Martinez has crushed lefties to the tune of .474/.556/1.105 (totaling to a 1.661 OPS on the season) in 38 at bats.  Out of the 18 hits that Martinez has against lefties in 2017, 4 have gone for doubles and 6 have left the yard this year.  Martinez is going to be a force to reckon with in that Diamondbacks lineup with all the firepower it already has with Paul Goldschmidt, Jake Lamb, David Peralta, and a healthy A.J. Pollock.  Even with all of these great bats, the Diamondbacks have struggled all season against lefties, especially in the heart of their order.  The biggest reason the Diamondbacks needed the lefty masher is all of the left handed pitchers that exists in the NL West between Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill, and Alex Wood of the Dodgers with Kyle Freeland as the only lefty in Colorado. Hitting these pitchers is how J.D. Martinez can become beloved in Arizona this year.  Below is a spray chart of what J.D. Martinez’ career home runs overlaid at Chase Field would look like (Thanks to Daren Willman, @darrenw on Twitter).

JD Martinez Career HR

Most people were very surprised by the small return for a hitter that is slashing .305/.388/.630 overall, but fans need to remember that Martinez is only a 2.5 month rental for a corner outfielder that hasn’t been the most sought-after position this year (pitching is the most attractive upgrade for buyers) because of the way that the baseball is flying out of the ballpark. The return seemed very minimal because the Diamondbacks’ farm system was one of the weakest, even before the deal, but the Tigers did get the 4th (3B/SS, Dawel Lugo) and 15th (SS, Sergio Alcantra) best prospects out of the Arizona farm, but the Tigers also received 2B/SS Jose King, who was left unranked on MLB Pipeline.  The Tigers current infield consists of Miguel Cabrera (34 years old), Ian Kinsler (35 years old), Jose Iglesias (27 years old), and Nicholas Castellanos (25 years old). The upside of the current infield for Detroit is severely lacking due to age and lackluster performances (all of them hitting .265 or worse).  Detroit has had issues with filling their farm system with quality talent and while this trade didn’t net them much top end talent, it does help Detroit build for the future.

In 87 games for the AA Jackson Generals of the Diamondbacks, Dawel Lugo has played 77 games at third base and 10 games at shortstop.  Lugo is projected to have a below average hit tool with average power in the future and his minor league numbers reflect that as he has hit 24 total home runs in 879 plate appearances between High-A and Double A for the Arizona Diamondbacks while carrying an average of around .300.  The problem with Lugo is he is not very keen on taking walks as he currently has a 5.7 BB%, which is his highest in his professional career, which started in 2012.  He has shown improvement, but Lugo is already 22 years old.  One of the biggest positives about the young infielder is he does not have a terrible issue with strikeouts as he currently owns a 13.8% K rate this year.  He could end up being the third baseman to take over for Castellanos if the Tigers decide to move on from him after this year, where Castellanos will enter his 2nd year of arbitration.  Dawel Lugo doesn’t project to be great, but I would view him as an average every day MLB third baseman.

Sergio Alcantra has played exclusively at shortstop this year in the minors, but has been largely unspectacular as he carries a line of .279/.344/.362 for an OPS of just over .700. Alcantra has a good balance between walks and strikeouts, but has shown little to no power in his time in the minors while displaying only a little bit of speed with 11 stolen bases in 86 games in High-A ball this year.  Alcantra has a decent ability to spray the ball around the field, which is something he will have to utilize if he ever wants to reach the majors.  Sergio just turned 21 years old 8 days ago, so that works in Detroit’s favor to coach him through the struggles he will encounter.

Jose King, who was signed as a free agent on October 21, 2015 by Arizona, has played a mix of second base and shortstop between the Dominican Summer league and rookie ball in his professional career.  He is mostly an unknown commodity, but is currently only 18 years old.  The upside is relatively unknown with the young middle infielder, but could prove to be useful as he spends more time in the minors and develops with Detroit’s coaching staff.  While it seems like Detroit got the worse end of the deal today, their farm system did get injected with some much needed youth. All of this will be for naught for Arizona if they can’t get past Washington and Los Angeles in this year’s playoffs.

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