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Mets sign slugger Jose Martinez to one-year deal

MLB Trade Rumors logo MLB Trade Rumors 1/14/2021 Steve Adams, MLB Trade Rumors
a baseball player holding a bat on a field: Jose Martinez © Mary Holt-USA TODAY Sports Jose Martinez

The Mets agreed to a one-year, split contract with free agent outfielder/first baseman Jose Martinez, reports USA Today’s Bob Nightengale (Twitter link). If he makes the major league roster, he’ll receive a $1M salary with up to $500K available in additional incentives. In the minors, he’ll earn at a $225K clip, per MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand (Twitter link). Martinez is represented by Octagon.

The 2020 season was a forgettable one for Martinez, who posted an awful .182/.265/.295 slash in 98 plate appearances between the Rays and the Cubs. That line included a particularly woeful stretch following a trade from Tampa to Chicago that saw him go hitless in 22 plate appearances as a Cub.

Prior to the 2020 season, however, Martinez was a highly productive part-time player with the Cardinals. From 2017-19, Martinez batted a combined .296/.361/.458 with 41 homers, 56 doubles and three triples in 1,270 trips to the plate. His right-handed bat was a menace to left-handed pitching, in particular; Martinez owned southpaws with a .323/.401/.570 slash in that time.

Martinez still has a pair of minor league options remaining, so he doesn’t necessarily need to make the Opening Day roster out of spring training. He finished up the 2020 season with just over four years of service time, so he’s controllable through the 2022 season at present, although if he spends even three or four weeks in the minors, his path to free agency would be pushed back a year.

Of course, Martinez first needs to make the big league roster and re-establish himself as a credible big league hitter before that’s even a consideration. A rebound with the bat is of particular importance for the 28-year-old, as he doesn’t bring any real defensive value to the table. Martinez has ample experience in both outfield corners and at first base, but he rates as a well below-average defender at all three positions.

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