The transaction: On July 18, J.D. Martinez was traded from the Detroit Tigers to the Arizona Diamondbacks for minor leaguers Sergio Alcantara, Jose King, and Dawel Lugo.
The addition of Martinez was a huge upgrade for the Diamondbacks as their third outfield slot was seen as a glaring weakness for a team that appears headed for an unexpected post-season run. Yasmany Tomas (-.4 WAR), Gregor Blanco (-.1 WAR), Daniel Descalso (-.2 WAR), and a host of other mix and match options were just not producing for the team. Trading for an anchor like Martinez puts the Diamondbacks’ outfield in much better shape especially if the health of A.J. Pollock and David Peralta cooperates.
Don’t let Martinez’s paltry .195 batting average with the Diamondbacks fool you. His triple slash of 195/313/634 (OPS of .947) and his 130 OPS+ tell the story of his time with the D-Backs more accurately. Six of Martinez’s 8 hits (48 at bats in 12 games) have been home runs and he’s also walked 7 times. How can things get even better for J.D. and the Diamondbacks? Towards the end of August and into September the schedule becomes division focused. Not only will Martinez receive plenty of at bats in a hitter friendly home ballpark but he should also feast on many of his opponents. For instance, he will have an opportunity to visit the friendly confines of Coors Field and he will also get to hit against an anemic Padres’ pitching staff. Thus, the ingredients for a strong final third of the season for Martinez are in place.
Arizona’s farm system is not highly regarded by many scouts and prospect analysts. However, this trade did little damage to their minor league equity as none of the three players moved were ranked highly within the D-Back’s system. Alcantra is a 20 year old infielder currently playing in A+ minor league ball. Many rate his arm and defense as above average but scouts don’t necessarily agree on his big league potential. King is an 18 year old infielder currently playing in Rookie league minor league ball and Lugo is a 22 year old infielder currently playing in AA minor league ball. Of these three, he is the only player to be added to Detroit’s 40 man roster. Although it may take a few years to get a clear picture of Detroit’s return, this trade currently seems like a huge win for the Arizona as it allows them to rent J.D. Martinez’s services for half of a season while giving up no immediate or near-future assets.
This trade illustrates how teams around the league did not value sluggers in 2017. Although home runs are up in 2017, an offensive talent like Martinez was thought by many observers to be worth more than three lower level prospects. Whether the Tigers jumped too early to make a deal or the market did not bare out the perceptions of what Martinez’s value was thought to be, the Diamondbacks gave up relatively little to gain a player currently sports a WAR of 2.0 and an 160 OPS+ in just 69 games. Of all the deals that were made prior to the July 31st deadline, the Martinez acquisition appears to be the steal of 2017.