NEWS Rosenthal: Why JD Martinez took less from the Dodgers and the latest on the trade market

The Athletic

Free agency always produces some oddities. Consider the 2022 comparison of two right-handed hitters who switched teams recently, as if they were swapped.

Player A: 38 years old, 13 HR, 116 OPS+, 532 PA

Player B: 35 years old, 16 HR, 117 OPS+, 596 PA

Player A is Justin Turner, who will sign a one-year, $15 million contract with the Red Sox if he opts out, or a two-year, $15 million contract with the Red Sox if he does not opt ​​out. $21.7 million guaranteed contract. Player B is JD Martinez, who signed a one-year, $10 million contract with the Dodgers.

Turner, represented by VaynerSports’ Greg Genske, has done better than many clubs expected. But how is he likely to sign a contract that guarantees him more than double Martinez’s deal, considering they both offer minimal defensive value at this point in their respective careers?

Martinez’s agent, Scott Boras, pointed to the slugger’s relationship with his former Red Sox teammate Mookie Betts and Dodgers hitting coach Robert Van Skoyok, who helped Martinez in the Improved his swing after the 2013 season.

Not only is Martinez worth less than Turner, but Josh Bell ($33 million for two years), Michael Brantley ($12 million for one year) and Joey Gallo ($11 million for one year).

“(Dodgers president of baseball operations) Andrew Friedman and Mookie are like college coaches looking for recruits,” Boras said. “JD was fully aware of the recent signings and bought it for $6-7 million below its net worth.

“He wants to win, he wants to (optimize his abilities). He feels the Dodgers are the best team to help him achieve those goals. Find your true worth.”

Rays, Jays at Brantley

The day the Rays announced the signing of right-hander Zach Eflin, president of baseball operations Eric Neander all but signaled his interest in free-agent outfielder Michael Brantly.

“I think for us to add another player, it’s a rebounding candidate, or a breakaway candidate, I don’t know it’s relative to someone who has more consistency for them and has been successful recently What an attraction, Neander said.

“Because I think what this group probably needs most is someone who can show that, frankly, take some of the focus and expectations off of the young players.”

As it turns out, the Rays did pursue Brantley, who turns 36 on May 15 and is hitting .296 in 54 career postseason appearances. The same goes for the Blue Jays, who also targeted Brantley when they were last free agents two years ago.

That winter, Brantley returned to the Astros on a two-year, $32 million deal. This time, he agreed to a one-year, $12 million deal with $4 million in incentives. Presumably, the Astros believe Brantley will pass his physical. He underwent arthroscopic surgery in August to repair a labral tear in his right shoulder and missed the remainder of the season.

Where is the transaction location?

For the past few years, I’ve been complaining that too many teams are rebuilding, compromising the competitive integrity of the sport. Well, we can finally report on the progress made on this front. In recent days, three baseball operations chiefs have attributed the slowdown in the trade market to many clubs shying away from veteran deals as they try to build competitive rosters.

“That’s the biggest motivator,” said one executive. “We can’t use our prospects to attract players. There are a few teams we can, but it’s not enough. You need enough teams to have major league players. It’s definitely buying time, absolutely.”

The new collective bargaining agreement introduced a lottery, but it did not appear to be enough to promote competition. However, one aspect of the CBA — the expansion of playoff teams from 10 to 12 — may have provided more incentive for clubs than expected. The Phillies and Padres, two sub-90-win teams, advanced to the National League Championship Series.

One executive said the Reds, Buccaneers and A’s are the only teams that are truly in rebuild mode; the Nationals, he said, aren’t doing that. The trade market is so quiet that not even Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto (one of the sport’s leading dealmakers) can make a splash in the winter meeting. Dipoto said the Mariners made a few calls to check on possible plays and got feedback from one club, but otherwise teams seemed to be eyeing free agency.

With free agency dwindling, the trade market could pick up speed. The biggest trade to date was a three-team, nine-man fest that sent Sean Murphy from the A’s to the Braves and William Contreras from the Braves to the Brewers.

Jorge Mateo (Tommy Gilligan/USA TODAY Sports)

Orioles’ Mateo on the move?

The Orioles began receiving inquiries about shortstop Jorge Mateo almost immediately after the Cubs reached a deal with Dansby Swanson, the last of the four major free agents, according to major league sources. ask.

The Twins, Braves, Red Sox and Dodgers all lost shortstops on the open market. Mateo, entering his age-28 season, could be an affordable and potentially attractive player for interested clubs as the league introduces shift restrictions, larger bases and draft rules in 2023. The value of an athletic linebacker and a stealing threat will only increase.

The Orioles like the idea of ​​pairing their right-handed infielders Mateo and Ramón Urías with their left-handed options Gunnar Henderson and Adam Frazier. The extra depth in the second, short and third lines will allow them to not only mix and match, but also allow each player to be fully rested. Then, the O’s will also have three midfield prospects in Triple A, Jordan Westburg, Joey Ortiz and Connor Norby. The team will definitely move some infielders eventually.

In the right trade, then, Mateo seems expendable. He finished in the top five in above-average defensive runs and strikeouts last season and is projected to earn a relatively paltry $1.8 million in the first year of his three-year arbitration. Cons: His adjusted OPS was 19 percent below league average last season, though he did lead the American League with 35 stolen bases (44 attempts) and 13 home runs.

The latest Conforto

Some teams considering free-agent outfielder Michael Conforto are concerned about his ability to throw the ball at full strength, citing right shoulder surgery he underwent last April. If Conforto needs time as a designated hitter, he might not be as attractive to clubs that want more full-time outfielders.

However, Boras said Conforto’s throw distance of 150 feet puts him ahead of players who are just starting to prepare for the season. The Rangers, along with the Mets and Blue Jays, are all interested in left-field impact bats, major league sources said.

Another left-handed option for these clubs: David Peralta, who at 35 is more than 5.5 years older than Conforto but still an above-average hitter with a The reputation of the winning player.

Overall, the supply of left-handed outfielders isn’t as plentiful as it used to be. Outside of Juan Soto, Peralta and Andrew Benintendi were the top players traded at the deadline. One executive speculated that the shortage led the Red Sox to give Japanese outfielder Masataka Yoshida $90 million.

around the horn

• Padres general manager AJ Preller admitted he has received trade inquiries for infielder Kim Ha-Seong and center fielder Trent Grisham since the team acquired shortstop Xander Bogaerts in free agency. However, Preller doesn’t seem inclined to take action.

“With the signing of Bogaerts, our intent is to play this position group together,” Preller said. “We love the flexibility and versatility it brings to our team.”

• The Rangers, like the Orioles, have a glut of infield prospects, giving them the ability to trade veteran help at the deadline, if not earlier.

Ezequiel Durán, one of the infielders they acquired from the Yankees in the Joey Gallo trade, played a lot of outfield games in the Dominican Winter League. Josh Smith, another player in the Gallo trade, could develop into a super-utility type, the Rangers’ version of Chris Taylor.

Also in the system: 23-year-old second baseman Justin Foscue, Mississippi State’s 14th pick in the 2020 draft, and 20-year-old Luisangel Acuña, the younger brother of Ronald Acuña Jr. According to, Foscue and Luisangel Acuña are the team’s No. 5 and No. 7 prospects, respectively.

• The Brewers sent outfielder Esteury Ruiz to the A’s so they could get William Contreras from the Braves in a three-team Murphy trade. It wouldn’t be surprising to see them pitch another young outfielder.

Four of the Brewers’ top five prospects in’s rankings are outfielders. Topping the list is 18-year-old Jackson Chourio from Venezuela, who is almost certainly untouchable. That’s followed by Sal Frelick, the 15th overall pick in the 2021 draft and another player the Brewers are unlikely to trade.

Interested teams might be better off taking the No. 3 and No. 5 players on the Brewers’ roster: Joey Wimmer, a fourth-round pick in 2020 from the University of Cincinnati, or Garrett with the 20th pick in the same year Mitchell.

• Finally, the Diamondbacks are looking for a right-handed infielder in trade talks involving their left-handed center fielder. They also considered a free agent, Brandon Drury, who would fit their ideal profile.

As always, one phone call can change everything. But no deal is expected until the new year.

(Top photo by JD Martinez: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

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