If you missed any of the New York Mets offseason minor league signings, you’re not alone. They have been one of the most active franchises this winter in this department. Some familiar and not-so-recognizable names have joined the team. One to watch for is Jose Martinez.
The 32-year-old righty has a much better resume than most minor league signees this offseason. A lifetime .289/.356/.447 hitter in just under 1400 plate appearances, he’s a guy with a strong enough big league bat to garner some big league playing time.
Likely due to the slow market and a down year in 2020, Martinez decided to settle on a minor league pact with the Mets. It’s a good thing, too. The Mets may be able to get much more out of him than many expect.
How the Mets can use Jose Martinez
The Mets needed outfield depth this winter. Lots of it. On the big league roster and in the minor leagues, they didn’t have very many options. Even three regulars we have seen play the outfield positions—J.D. Davis, Jeff McNeil, Dominic Smith—are not true outfielders.
Martinez, on the other hand, is.
Sure, Martinez is not an elite defender. He’s a right fielder-slash-first baseman probably fitting in better at the latter position. The Mets don’t need much help there. They have more than enough guys to chat it up with an opposing baserunner after he draws a walk.
Martinez has experience in both corner positions which is probably where we’d see him most. More than that, he should get a lot of pinch-hitting opportunities while Albert Almora Jr. and Kevin Pillar show off their gloves.
Mets brought Jose Martinez in for his bat
Just as Hans Gruber didn’t bring Theo to Nakatomi Plaza for his good looks, the Mets didn’t bring Martinez to New York for his glove. He has a shot to wear orange and blue because of his stick, not his leather.
Martinez is a negative defender but a potentially strong bat to have on the bench. Back in 2018, the St. Louis Cardinals gave him 590 plate appearances. He knocked 17 home runs and drove in 83 while slashing a robust .305/.364/.457.
Even though this one year was an outlier, he did show other positive signs. In fewer than 400 plate appearances in 2019, he still did hit .269/.340/.410. Traveling back in time, Martinez slashed .309/.379/.518 in 2017 during his rookie year.
The issue with Martinez is the same one the Mets have: there are too many first basemen in baseball. Unable to find a permanent job because of this, he is best-suited with the Mets the same way J.D. Davis was back in 2019.
Positionless but with the reputation of being able to hit, Davis managed to smack his way into an everyday role. The same will not happen for Martinez, but he can certainly fill in admirably (at least at the plate) should the Mets need to call in the reserves.
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I’m a little biased with the Martinez addition. I love having a guy on the bench that can rip a home run. This is Martinez. All that’s left for him to do is win a bench spot this spring.