Mets Monday Morning GM: The $12 million free agent missing link discovered

The influence of J.D. Martinez at the plate and in the clubhouse has kept the Mets from being their own worst enemy.
Miami Marlins v New York Mets
Miami Marlins v New York Mets / Elsa/GettyImages

It took until March 23 for J.D. Martinez to sign his contract with the New York Mets. Opening Day was a week away and 29 other teams thought their DH situation was better. In fairness to some of them, Martinez wasn’t a fit. He wasn’t going to return to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Teams like the New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies, and a few others already had an obvious DH or at least too many position players where they’d have to rotate through who’d get those at-bats.

Lucky for us, the Mets were in a more frustrating situation with a plan to use Mark Vientos, DJ Stewart, and Starling Marte at the spot in the order most frequently. The stars aligned. Martinez’s suitors dried up. He accepted a lesser deal with most of it deferred. His comments about being “addicted to the playoffs” were ridiculed. Then came the Mets roaring back in these last few weeks while firmly sitting atop his shoulders as he carried them.

J.D. Martinez might’ve been the missing link for the Mets after all

We need to get protection for Pete Alonso! It was a must for the offseason. By signing Martinez, the Mets brought in one of the game’s premier power hitters to bat presumably behind Alonso in the order. When that didn’t work out so well, the Mets flipped the lineup around a little bit. It hasn’t mattered much where Martinez has hit or exactly who is in front of behind him in the lineup. The man is on an absolute rampage like some kind of killer monster.

But is Martinez’s biggest contributions truly what he offers the Mets as an athlete or as a mentor? Plenty of references have been made about the kind of locker room presence he is. He spoke to Mark Vientos after the signing back in March. This wasn’t a selfish taking of a roster spot from a young player by a veteran. Since he arrived, Martinez has been encouraging.

A lot has been said about the leadership of certain Mets players or lack thereof. This is a club clearly run by Francisco Lindor and Brandon Nimmo. In 2022 and 2023, there was some from Max Scherzer. However, as a temporary mercenary, the messaging he put out didn’t seem as accepted. There can be all kinds of leaders in a clubhouse. Martinez has let Lindor and Nimmo do what they do while taking a different approach. In the recent team meeting, he helped take some of the pressure off.

Martinez is the only guy on the Mets with a World Series ring. Shockingly, the only other to even appear in a World Series game are Lindor and out-for-the-season reliever Brooks Raley. Both of them were on the losing side.

The numbers over the last ten games for Martinez don’t even tell just how much he has helped the team. His walk-off home run absolutely turned the tide of the team.

We’ll never know exactly how much of a positive influence Martinez truly has had or will have on his teammates this season. What we know for sure is his own abilities have heated up this team and made them much closer to playoff bound than they seemed only a half-month ago.