Detroit Tigers: Nothing to show for the J.D. Martinez trade
If you watched the Dominican winter league in December, the Detroit Tigers had a sizeable presence in terms of players who have worn a Tigers uniform in the last two seasons. Jeimer Candelario, Gregory Soto, and three Tigres Del Licey in Jorge Bonifácio, Dawel Lugo, and Sergio Alcantara.
The last two names should sound familiar to Tigers fans as they were the key players along with Jose King that the Tigers picked up in the J.D. Martinez deal. Alcantara was designated for assignment this week to make room for Wilson Ramos and that signaled the end of what was left of the J.D. Martinez trade. So the closest Tigers fans saw Lugo and Alcantara go to play together as Tigers were for the Tigres Del Licey.
It feels like a lifetime ago that last year around this time, Lugo and Candelario were heading into spring training in a battle for the job at third base. Lugo then made the 30-man expanded roster over Jordy Mercer but even getting time at second base, he looked overmatched and was DFA, finishing his Tigers career with a -0.5 WAR and a slash line of .236/.270/.358 with 7 HR and 35 RBI.
When the trade happened on July 18th, 2017, Lugo was the Diamondbacks’ No. 2 prospect overall according to Baseball America and 4th on MLB.com’s list. Alcantara was the 15th-best prospect in their system. But even then, the critics were quick to jump on General Manager Al Avila on what was considered a light return for one of the best hitters in the league. The fans on Twitter let be known they were not happy.
The defenders of the trade said Detroit could not get much for what was considered a rental since Martinez was set to be a free agent at the end of 2017. But it makes it 0-for-2 for Al Avila in the “trilogy” of trades that occurred in 2017. The Justin Upton trade for Grayson Long and Elvin Rodriguez has yielded no results that are visible on the rebuild.
As far as the rental angle goes, so far the ones that come to mind that are recent is the Manny Machado deal. The Dodgers gave up outfielder Yusniel Diaz, starting pitcher Dean Kramer, reliever Zach Pop, and infielders Breyvic Valera & Rylan Bannon.
Diaz, Bannon, and Kramer are on the 40-man roster for the Orioles with Diaz getting an opportunity to possibly get a call up this season and Kramer so far, minus his last start of the season against the Red Sox, being a solid contributor to the rotation after being called up on September 6. Pop was drafted by the Diamondbacks in the Rule 5 draft in December then was traded to the Marlins and has a chance to pitch this season. Only Valera is no longer with the team. Granted, Diaz has not seen major league action but as far as prospect status, he was a Top 100 Baseball America prospect in 2019.
While Machado may be a higher caliber player than Martinez, the reason why I mentioned the trade was that former VP of Baseball Operations Dan Duquette was able to get some pieces that are still part of Baltimore’s future. Since Martinez was traded, the Tigers have had the following right field production. (Due to the short season, 2020 was not added)
- 2018: Nicholas Castellanos WAR: 2.9
- 2019: Castellanos WAR: 1.2, Travis Demeritte -1.2
Martinez may have been too costly for the Tigers to resign but to walk away without a player that could help the Tigers in 2021 is a tough pill to swallow.