Cubs Free Agent Target: J.D. Martinez
Paul Rutherford - USA Today Sports

Cubs Free Agent Target: J.D. Martinez

by - Senior Writer -

With this being one of the slowest and arguably the worst Cubs offseason in recent memory, it's hard to believe that spring training is only 35 days away. That means unless the Cubs make some moves in the coming months, they are going to enter Spring with virtually the same roster as last season and being forced to count on several prospects.

According to reports, some believe the Cubs are about to be one of the more aggressive teams in the closing weeks as several of their targets remain available. That includes Cody Bellinger and Rhys Hoskins in terms of hitters and some pitchers they have been linked to since day one. Either way, the Cubs need to make a move soon, or they will face a challenging year with Craig Counsell at the helm.

One thing this offseason has taught us about baseball is that rumors come out of nowhere, and when a team is linked to a player, there is often some merit to it. However, the most recent player connected to the Cubs is about as random as it can be, but the more you look at it, the more it makes sense in some aspects.

Veteran DH J.D. Martinez has been one of the better hitters in the game for nearly a decade, and now that he is a free agent looking for a home, he has a chance to help someone else. This is a name that was linked to the Cubs a few years ago, but for whatever reason, his name has popped up in terms of being a possible fit for the Cubs as their DH.

Whether you agree with this move or not, the more you think about it, the more it makes sense, and that all falls on Christopher Morel. Counsell has made it a point that Morel needs to be in this lineup as an everyday player. Unless he moves to third, DH seems to be the likely role for him, which is why the Martinez rumor is a bit puzzling. However, unless the Cubs land Hoskins or Bellinger, the Cubs will have several openings on this team, thus forcing Morel to play an actual position and creating a DH opening, which is where Martinez comes into play.

Martinez may not be the youngest player on the market and is already 36 years old as his career is nearing the end. Despite that, Martinez has an impressive track record as a hitter, his recent Dodgers performance, and the potential benefit of his presence as an extra-hitting coach for the Cubs. The only way I see the Cubs taking a chance on him will be if they miss out on Bellinger, Hoskins, or both, as their lineup would need some middle-of-the-lineup power.

If anything, that is what Martinez can bring you, and even with his best days behind him, Martinez will always provide some pop in the middle of any lineup. Since making his MLB debut with the Detroit Tigers in 2014, Martinez has been one of the best hitters in the game and has connected for more than 300 homers in the past decade.

That may not be considered elite power production, but anytime you average 30 homers and close to 100 RBIs per season, any lineup could use you, and the Cubs are one of those lineups. When you look at his past 10 seasons, Martinez not only hits for average with a combined .293 but averages 29 homers, 88 RBIs, and 32 doubles, all while posting a .902 OPS. To put that into perspective, he would have finished second on the team on average, had RBIs last season, and was first in homers.

After being consistent, his overall production has fallen off in recent seasons. Many felt that his age 35 season could be the beginning of the end for him. That was far from the truth as he latched on with the Dodgers for 10 million and continued to show what he could do. There was a lot of good throughout the season last year, but also some bad, with one being just 113 games played.

That was his lowest total since 2017 and was just the third time he finished with less than 120 games played. Despite missing more than 40 games, you wouldn't have guessed it based on the production, as he hit .271 with 33 homers and 103 RBIs. Both of those would have led the Cubs last season, so there is plenty of value left in that bat.

Given his age and being only a DH, it would be challenging for the Cubs to give him a contract worth around 15-20 million per season, especially if it's just one year. However, if you can tie some incentives and a possible option into the deal, it looks much better as Martinez would give the middle of this lineup some much-needed pop and consistency they haven't had in years.

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