The Detroit Tigers need J.D. Martinez, but does Martinez need the Tigers? Hopefully, for Tigers fans, the answer to that question is a rousing "yes!" MLB Rumors indicates that the slugging soon-to-be free agent told reporters on Wednesday that he'd love to remain in Detroit, but it's "highly doubtful" that there'll be any contract negotiations during the season. That isn't good news to the ears of the Detroit faithful.
Of course, if no deal is struck during the regular season, the Tigers could always look to re-sign Martinez this upcoming offseason. The problem with that is it may run counter to GM Al Avila's stated goal of lowering the team's long-term payroll outlook. It also may be hard for Detroit to get a shot at matching anything Martinez is offered during the offseason in hopes of luring him back to Motown.Payroll cuts or not, the Detroit Tigers can't afford to lose J.D. Martinez.
Right now, Martinez is definitely Detroit's best right fielder, and along with Justin Upton, these two could be the cornerstones that make up the Tigers outfield for several years to come.
Martinez has been a solid player for the Tigers ever since he arrived in Detroit, and since coming off the disabled list less than a week ago, Martinez has been on fire.
J.D. has already smashed four home-runs, including a grand slam, and collected hits in six of his 12 at-bats heading into last night's action against the Baltimore Orioles. Martinez has shown that his keen eye hasn't missed a beat during his stint on the disabled list, as he has already drawn five walks since he has returned to the starting lineup.
The worst case scenario for Tigers fans is if the team continues this up and down roller coaster they are on and they begin to fall out of playoff contention in July, then you can bet that the J.D. Martinez trade rumors will heat up. One thing the Tigers don't want to do is let a Max Scherzer-type scenario play out once again.
Once Scherzer hit the open market, you knew that no matter how many times the Tigers said they are "still in the running" to keep Scherzer, he wasn't coming back. So is Martinez just toeing the company line by saying he would love to finish his career with the Tigers, or is he long gone once he hits the free-agent market at the end of the 2017 season?
Detroit News beat writer Bob Wojnowski perhaps said it best when he put it plain and simple: J.D. Martinez is not the type of player the Tigers should let get away.
"Martinez, 29, is not the type of player you simply let walk away, or give away, and the Tigers have to be very careful how they handle this. He's a thumping right fielder with a great work ethic and a humble persona, a fan favorite who embraces the big moments. He's also a pending free-agent, and for a team trying to scale back without tearing down, he would be a costly luxury.
"The Tigers likely will have three options, and none are overly appealing. They can try to sign Martinez to a long-term contract that likely will top $20 million annually, and they already have a $22-million left fielder in Justin Upton. They can do what they did two years ago and sell high by trading Martinez before the July 31 deadline, restocking with more youth."
While Martinez is looking for a big payday, and rightly so, the Tigers should jump in with both feet and make every attempt to keep him. After all, baseball fans need to remember that it is the MLB owners who voted not to have a salary cap.
Martinez has averaged 27 home-runs and 86 RBI in his three years as Detroit's starting right fielder. His best season was in 2015 when he hit 38 home runs and drove in 102.
[Featured Image by Leon Halip/Getty Images]