Mets, J.D. Martinez agree to 1-year, $12M deal, source says

ByJorge Castillo ESPN logo
Friday, March 22, 2024

The New York Mets and designated hitter J.D. Martinez are in agreement on a one-year, $12 million contract, a source confirmed to ESPN on Thursday. The deal is pending a physical.

Martinez gives the Mets' lineup a proven power source behind slugger Pete Alonso one week before Opening Day. And he'll do it at a steep discount.

New York will pay Martinez just $4.5 million this season, a source said. He then will receive $1.5 million deferred per year from 2034 through 2038. The Mets, long rumored to have interest in Martinez, were waiting for his price to drop enough to their liking to mitigate the luxury tax penalty for this season. New York is projected to have the highest payroll in the majors for the second consecutive year.

Coming off a frustrating 2022 season with the Boston Red Sox, Martinez enjoyed a bounce-back All-Star season with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2023 on a one-year, $10 million deal. Martinez outperformed the contract, clubbing 33 home runs with 103 RBIs and an .893 OPS in 113 games while reuniting with his longtime hitting coach, Robert Van Scoyoc.

Martinez, 36, has a career .287 batting average over 13 seasons with the Dodgers, Red Sox, Arizona Diamondbacks, Detroit Tigers and Houston Astros.

As good as Martinez was for the Dodgers last season, the team's preference was always just a one-year commitment. The plan all along was to pursue Shohei Ohtani in free agency to step in as DH. The Dodgers nabbed Ohtani in December, solidifying the likelihood that Martinez, the best DH on the free agent market not named Ohtani, would play elsewhere in 2024.

More and more teams have preferred to cycle every-day position players through the designated hitter spot to give them lighter workdays rather than devoting the bulk of their DH plate appearances to one player. But Martinez has proved to be a good enough hitter to hold down the role himself; he did not appear in the outfield in any game in 2022 and had only three games there last season.

The New York Post first reported Martinez's agreement with the Mets.

ESPN's Buster Olney contributed to this report.

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