Word on the internet streets is that the Detroit Tigers are looking to rebuild after a run which saw them win the AL Central every year from 2011 to 2014. Apparently, almost everyone is available, including former MVPs Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera.
Earlier, Jason looked at the players that the Tigers have to offer if the Yankees are interested. He put Tigers right fielder J.D. Martinez in the "Do Whatever It Takes" category, and for good reason. Martinez is 29 years old and has an .898 OPS over the last three seasons in the Motor City. He is set to become a free agent after the 2017 season, where he will make much more than the $11.75 million he is owed next year.
As good as he is though, Martinez is an even better fit for Yankee Stadium, despite being right-handed. Since 2014, he has 29 home runs to the opposite field, three more than teammate Miguel Cabrera, who is in second place. According to FanGraphs' Park Factors metric, Comerica Park is not conducive to left-handed hitters who are trying to hit homers. Since most are hit to the pull side, it is safe to say that Martinez has not spent much time recently in a ballpark tailored to his opposite-field pop.
As a right fielder, his shaky defense is mitigated by the short porch at Yankee Stadium, as there is less ground to cover. According to defensive metrics, he was an average-to-above average outfielder in 2014 and 2015, but had a horrendous 2016 season in the field. In fact, his defense was so bad that he only amassed 1.8 fWAR in 120 games, despite his .908 OPS. It should also be noted that he suffered a broken elbow during the season, which may have impacted his defense.
The major issue with trading for Martinez is that it would not make as much sense to part with prospects unless the Yankees felt like they could sign him to an extension. Martinez could potentially command a six or seven-year deal worth nine figures, and the warning signs are already starting to show. His career BABIP of .343 is not surprising, as he hits the ball as hard as anyone. It might not be sustainable into this thirties, though. He also has below-average plate discipline and a questionable contact rate, which does not bode well for his later years.
However, his heatmaps show that he does most of his damage on pitches located in the middle or inner part of the strike zone. His opposite-field power, combined with the short porch in right field, could make pitchers wary of the outside corner in Yankee Stadium for years to come.
Finding a Yankee fan who is in the mood to halt the youth movement is probably not an easy thing to do, but the Yankees should still take a serious look at J.D. Martinez. Some might remember Father's Day of 2015, when he hit three home runs off of the Yankees in a blowout victory. Prying Martinez away from the Tigers would not be easy. But for now, we can imagine the possibilities:
Data is courtesy of FanGraphs.