Dodgers can’t reunite, focus on free-agent outfield choices

Even with 33 home runs, Ohtani leaves

He hit 33 home runs last year, but he wasn’t able to “stick around.

One of the Dodgers’ signing successes last season was J.D. Martinez, 37.

Martinez made his major league debut with the Houston Astros in 2011, moved to the Detroit Tigers in 2014, and exploded for a .282 batting average with 38 home runs and 102 RBIs in 2015, earning his first All-Star selection. In 2017, Martinez hit a career-high .303 with 45 home runs and 104 RBIs while playing for Detroit and the Arizona Diamondbacks, and in 2018, he hit the “jackpot” by signing a five-year, $110 million free agent contract with the Boston Red Sox.

Upon arriving in Boston, Martinez exploded for a .330 batting average with 43 home runs and 130 RBIs, leading the American League in batting and helping Boston win the World Series, and continued his upward trend in 2019, hitting .304 with 36 home runs and 105 RBIs. After hitting .286 with 28 home runs and 99 RBIs in 2021, Martinez saw his production dip in 2022, hitting just .274 with 16 home runs and 62 RBIs, and his five-year deal with Boston came to an end.

The Dodgers were the first team to approach Martinez, who seemed to be on a downward spiral. The Dodgers signed Martinez to a one-year, $10 million deal ahead of last season.

It paid off. Martinez exploded for home runs in a Dodger uniform, hitting .271 with 33 home runs and 103 RBIs, good enough to finish third on the team in home runs behind Mookie Betts (39) and Max Muncy (36).

But Martinez wasn’t going to stay with the Dodgers. Just as Martinez was about to become a free agent once again after his one-year deal with the Dodgers ended, “superstar” Shohei Ohtani also hit the free agent market, drawing the Dodgers’ attention. Ohtani is a two-hitter who bats designated hitter. Martinez is no stranger to the designated hitter position. Last year, he started 110 games at designated hitter and only three in the outfield.

In the end, the Dodgers signed Ohtani to a massive 10-year, $700 million contract, which pretty much finalized the parting of ways with Martinez.

Martinez remains an unsigned free agent. Although he is no longer with the Dodgers, he has received interest from multiple teams, so it will be interesting to see what he chooses to do. According to John Heyman of the New York Post, the New York Mets and Los Angeles Angels are interested in Martinez.

In particular, the Angels are interested in Martinez as a new designated hitter after losing Ohtani. “With Ohtani joining the Dodgers, the possibility of Martinez reuniting with Ohtani completely disappeared,” said CBS Sports. In fact, it could be argued that Ohtani’s move to the Dodgers paved the way for Martinez to head to the Angels.” In other words, Ohtani’s move to the Dodgers may have influenced Martinez’s decision once again.

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