Justin Upton has a guaranteed contract with the Tigers and he holds all the cards. No one has the role of the daily center fielder. So, the outfielder who has to be feeling the most pressure is J.D. Martinez.
He is the one outfielder who would be the easiest to trade due the excellence he has shown while wearing the Old English D.
The Tigers will be paying Martinez $11.75 million in 2017 and they are also eager to get that dollar amount off of the books. But, during the Winter Caravan in mid-January, Martinez had words for fans and the front office: “I love Detroit. They gave me the opportunity when no other team did, and for that I’m grateful. I would love to stay here my whole career.”
His story has become legendary in Detroit. He was unwanted after a handful of seasons with the Houston Astros and the Tigers snapped him up for a song after the Astros released him. Meanwhile, Martinez was tweaking his swing, modeling it on Miguel Cabrera – his soon-to-be teammate. The tweaks worked as Martinez hit home run after home run in Toledo and was quickly called up to play in Detroit.
If the Tigers are not contending at the trade deadline, fans should expect that Martinez will be one of the first players to go. At $11.75 million, he is affordable for other teams who could benefit from his big bat and competitive attitude. If he truly does want to stay in Detroit, he will have to take on a massive leadership role and treat every at-bat as if his future depends on it. His pressure isn’t on whether or not he will play in 2018; it is where he will play.on whether or not he will play in 2018; it is where he will play.