Diamondbacks Land J.D. Martinez, Best Bat on Market

The Diamondbacks are officially going for it. Despite being 10 1/2 games behind the Dodgers in the NL West, they are right in the thick of the Wild Card race, and with just three teams fighting for two spots, have a pretty good at reaching the play-in game. And today, their line-up just got a lot better.

J.D. Martinez was the best hitter available, as he’s now on year four of being an elite hitter. Since the start of the 2014 season, Martinez is ninth in MLB in wRC+, right between Anthony Rizzo and Justin Turner. He’s a beast.

With Yasmany Tomas on the shelf, the Diamondbacks had been using Gregor Blanco, Daniel Descalso, and Chris Herrmann in left field, so swapping those guys for one of the game’s best hitters is going to be a huge upgrade. The projections — which still don’t totally buy Martinez’s bat, thanks to his weak pre-2014 numbers — have him worth a little over a win over the remainder of the season, but you can probably bump that up to +1.5 WAR if you think ZIPS and Steamer are too conservative on his offensive production.

Given how competitive the Wild Card race looks to be, that win or two could be the difference between making it or sitting at home. And now sticking Martinez behind Paul Goldschmidt gives the Diamondbacks a pretty fearsome pair of hitters if they advance deep in October. Given how well the team is pitching, this makes Arizona a potentially tough postseason opponent, should they get there.

To land Martinez, the D’Backs are giving up three prospects. Nick Piecoro had the details.

Obviously things can change during a season, but these are three kind of shocking names to be traded for an elite hitter, even a rental one. Eric had Lugo as the best prospect of the trio last winter, giving him a 40 FV and ranking him as the team’s 10th best prospect. Alcantara was in the others of note section. King wasn’t mentioned.

Lugo’s been fine in Double-A this year, but hasn’t done anything that would dramatically change his stock that I can see. Alcantara is running a 96 wRC+ in high-A ball, which lines up with Eric’s pre-season report of a future utility infielder or a lower-tier starter. King is an 18 year old in rookie ball.

These guys might turn out well for the Tigers. Perhaps Lugo is closer to being big league ready than we think. Maybe the market for rentals really has crashed.

But hard not to like this for Arizona. They get an elite hitter for the stretch run for three prospects that, to be honest, don’t look all that special. You never like giving up any potential, but for the present upgrade, this looks like Arizona did quite well.

Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.

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5 years ago

When you say best position player on the market, are you counting Marcell Ozuna and Christian Yelich and Stanton on the market?

5 years ago
Reply to  LieutKaffee

I’m assuming he meant rentals.

Matthew Tobin
5 years ago
Reply to  LieutKaffee

Stanton can’t be on a market that doesn’t exist