STARTING FIVE: The JD Martinez trade is BAD

Carter Landis, Sports Editor

Although some fans are reluctant to admit it, the Detroit Tigers are not headed in a direction that will see them win a World Series title any time soon. The team just isn’t in a position to compete for a championship.

With this being the obvious state of the team, the best order of business is to trade away highly touted players who will help other teams who are actually in position to compete for a World Series, acquire those teams’ best prospects and build for the future so that team can possibly contend for a title.

General manager Al Avila attempted to do this on Tuesday, trading star outfielder J.D. Martinez to the Arizona Diamondbacks for three infield prospects by the names of Dawel Lugo, the DBacks’ 4th best prospect, Sergio Alcantara, their 15th best prospect, and Jose King, unranked on the Diamondbacks best prospects list.

This, in the least, is a horrible deal for the Detroit Tigers. Not only is this a weak return for a hitter whose numbers are top ten this season, but it’s a weak return from one of the worst farm systems in the MLB. Baseball America ranks Arizona’s farm as the third worst in baseball.

J.D. Martinez came to the Tigers in 2014 after being released by the Astros, where he hit just .250. After a hot start with the Tigers AAA affiliate, the Tigers signed Martinez to a major league contract. This proved to be a success, as Martinez hit for a scorching .315 with a 154 wRC+, also posting a 4.0 WAR.

Some thought that this was just a one time fluke, but Martinez came back in 2015 and proved that he was no scrub. In 2015, Martinez’s offensive numbers tailed off a bit but were still very good. He hit for a convincing .282 with 137 wRC+ and his WAR increased to 5, mostly because his defense was much improved, saving four defensive runs and posting a UZR of 7.7, up from only 2.1 in 2014.

In 2016, Martinez missed 42 games with injury, but still posted a .307 average, slugging .535 while hitting 22 home runs, one monumental go ahead solo shot against Chris Sale in the eighth inning in his first at bat since coming off the disabled list. Watch JD’s home run here.

Martinez again suffered injury at the beginning of 2017, but returned in the middle of May, and picked up right where he left off, coming onto the scene hitting .305 while slugging .630, posting a 1.018 OPS with a 162 wRC+.

Now, J.D. Martinez is no longer with the team that brought him up and made him the prolific offensive player that he is now. For the time being, he’ll write his hitting notes in his notebooks under Paul Goldschmidt instead of Miguel Cabrera.

Martinez goes to a Diamondbacks team that is 54-39 and would be in a very fortunate position if it weren’t for the Dodgers, who are 64-29 and are probably the best team in baseball.

Martinez will slide to left field for Torey Lovullo’s squad, taking over for Daniel Descalso, who has only posted a 0.3 WAR and isn’t playing great outfield defense, recording a -1 DRS. Martinez provides an elite bat and a solid glove that will do his best to try to catch the Dodgers in the west.

Dawel Lugo seems to be the most likely candidate to provide some help for the Tigers in the infield. A third baseman by trade, but most likely will move to short unless Nicholas Castellanos’s defense doesn’t improve. Lugo has hit for a .282 average in AA ball this year, and his defense has been rather average.

The overall return for Martinez is disappointing, because it’s not a tremendous return from a farm system that doesn’t sport strong prospects. It seems as though the trigger was pulled a slight bit early, and there most likely were better deals.

As a Tigers fan, you have to be disappointed to lose one of the best hitters in baseball for such a weak return, and it doesn’t look promising that Al Avila will return a solid haul for reliever Justin Wilson, or his son, catcher Alex Avila.

Losing J.D. Martinez hurts a lot. He held a very special place in Tigers fans’ hearts and he’ll be missed by every Tigers fan there is.

It’s probably unrealistic considering the same situation happened with Yoenis Cespedes back in 2015, but Martinez is a free agent at the end of the season, and he did mention in a very emotional farewell interview that he does love being in Detroit and that Detroit made him the player he is today.

So if there’s anything to be optimistic about in this tough situation, it’s the long shot possibility that J.D. Martinez could be making a return to the Tigers in free agency.