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Mets sign ex-Cubs utility man Jose Martinez to one-year deal

Sarah Valenzuela, New York Daily News on

Published in Baseball

The Mets just keep making moves.

The Amazin’s have signed INF/OF Jose Martinez to a split one-year contract on Thursday, the team announced. The deal is worth $1 million with $500,000 in incentives if Martinez is added to the major league roster — $225,000 in incentives if he remains in the minors, according to MLB.com.

Martinez is a righty bat and the Mets lineup is very left-heavy. He also can play both left and right field and first base. So. adding Martinez makes sense for a Mets roster lacking in overall balance.

Martinez, 32, has played for three teams over his five-year major league career. He debuted with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2016 and spent four season there, but made a splash particularly in his first two full seasons in St. Louis — he hit .309/.379/.518 in 2017 and .305/.364/.457 in 2018 and that season’s batting average was ranked No. 7 in the National League.

The Cardinals traded Martinez in 2020 along with Randy Arozarena to the Tampa Bay Rays. Midway through the pandemic-shortened, 60-game season, the Rays traded Martinez to the Chicago Cubs. He played a total number of 34 games last season between the two teams, but his performance at the plate was a far cry from where he was in St. Louis. Between the 24 games he played with the Rays and the 10 he played with the Cubs, Martinez hit .182/.265/.295. But the 2020 season was strange for many around the league, what with the shortened spring trainings, regularly changing game schedules and of course trying to navigate playing in a pandemic without certainty of health and safety.

The Mets hope Martinez can return to his Cardinals’ form, since at the plate is where they’ll need him most, especially since he also happens to be particularly good at hitting off lefty pitchers. Martinez is a career .307 hitter with a .915 OPS against lefties and a .283 hitter with a .765 OPS against righties.

 

That’s just one side though. The Mets — as proven at least by the last two year’s jumbling of outfielders due to injuries — need another arm capable of playing in the outfield. The are currently two natural starting outfielders in Flushing: Michael Conforto and Brandon Nimmo.

Dominic Smith and J.D. can both play left field, but if the universal DH rule returns to the NL in the 2021 season, Smith would be a better fit at first base or as a DH.

And Davis is a better third baseman. Unless another option emerges for second base with Robinson Cano suspended, Amed Rosario and Andres Gimenez traded, Davis could get moved over to second to fill that spot.

The Mets and center fielder George Springer are still linked together. The last word was that the Mets are still one of two favorites to sign the ex-Astro. Since no deal has been worked out just yet, Martinez can help out at either corner of the outfield and Nimmo or Conforto can slide over.

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