It may seem like a wild proposition to try and trade your three hitter last year, but dealing Jose Martinez is definitely in the cards for the St. Louis Cardinals.
Jose Martinez has been phased out of the team’s potential starting lineup following the acquisition of Paul Goldschmidt. He certainly has the offensive ability to contribute to a major league ball club, but there’s one problem: his defensive ineptitude.
This one defining trait keeps Martinez in limbo at the moment. With Goldschmidt manning first and Carpenter still on the roster, Martinez seems destined to play more outfield than first base if he remains with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2019.
That isn’t the greatest thing, and the Cardinals know it. Almost immediately following the trade, reports began coming out that the team discussed trading Martinez to the Rays.
Martinez is a solid hitter, with a .309/.372/.478 slash line for his career, but his defense and struggles in key moments this season demonstrated there was room for improvement.
I was once a strong advocate for dumping Jose Martinez, but my feelings are a bit different with Goldschmidt in the picture. Defensive struggles don’t hurt a team nearly as much from a backup and a pinch hitter as they do from a starter, and
This is more of an opinion, but I believe that Martinez is due for a bit of regression. There are no real numbers to support this, I just don’t believe his approach is sustainable. He seems to have trouble with certain pitch combinations whenever I watch his at bats, and I have called a strikeout on him after the first pitch on a number of occasions.
He seems to struggle with low outside breaking balls, and there are times where you can tell he lives by the phrase ‘you don’t walk off the island’. It’s similar to Yasiel Puig, only Puig has far more athletic ability in every facet than Martinez, making these flaws much more forgivable.
From a numbers standpoint, Martinez has the offensive ability to impress, especially in the AL. It has been said enough times for people to know that Martinez best fits on a team as a DH, and his offensive numbers certainly merit consideration.
While he doesn’t quite have the slugging ability that most DH’s showed in 2018, Martinez’s .305 average and .364 OBP would have placed him second and third respectively among qualified DH’s this season.
He may continue to hit like this for the rest of his career, but with Martinez having far higher value as a DH than he ever can produce for the Cardinals at this point, trading him to an AL team before that regression has any chance to occur is a good idea. With two seasons of solid hitting production under his belt as opposed to one, teams can feel more confident in what they are getting with Martinez, even if I am not.
While he isn’t young, he is cheap, has plenty of team control, and can immediately contribute for an AL contender. If the St. Louis Cardinals were a complete team right now, I would be more inclined to keep Martinez with these traits. However, with the team lacking a true left handed stopper among other things, he might be able to contribute more in a trade.
While it isn’t necessarily a bad thing if they don’t trade Martinez, the St. Louis Cardinals should milk his current value for all that it’s worth.