Arizona Diamondbacks: Martinez added for the stretch run
By Mark Brown
As the trade deadline nears, the Arizona Diamondbacks acquired one of the more desirable players.
When the Arizona Diamondbacks acquired outfielder J. D. Martinez from the Detroit Tigers on Tuesday for three minor league prospects, the deal was made with only one consideration.
Since the Diamondbacks under the Ken Kendrick-Derrick Hall regime tasted success with the National League West Division title in 2011, the intoxication of a winner burns deep. Approaching his mid-70s, Kendrick has long desired a winner, and now gave general manager Mike Hazen full reign to try and make that happen. After a few weeks of struggle, the Diamondbacks could now be in a position to sprint toward the finish line.
To acquire Martinez, the Diamondbacks parted with three infield prospects, Dawel Lugo, Sergio Alcantara and Jose King.
Though he will be a free agent after the current season, Hazen made clear in a conference call with the Arizona media just after the trade that Martinez, a powerful right-handed bat, arrives in the desert to help gain an immediate post-season position. After the current campaign, the Diamondbacks will access their future, and whether Martinez fits into long term plans.
Signed through the current season, Martinez is scheduled to earn $11,750 mil, and will have had 6.036 years of major league service.
For now, Martinez, who turns 30-years-old on August 21, fills a critical need, and that’s a power, right-handed bat in the line-up. With Yasmany Tomas on the disabled list since June 6 with right groin tendinitis, manager Torey Lovullo has forced to go with essentially Daniel Descalso and Chris Herrmann, two left-handed bats in left field.
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When Tomas went down, and he has not been cleared to resume baseball activity any time soon, the Cuban-born outfielder was hitting .241 with eight homers and 32 RBIs in 47 games. Martinez, a career .281 hitter coming into this season, was hitting .305 with 16 home runs and 39 RBIs in 57 games.
Heading into the final two plus months of the season, Hazen explained to Venom Strikes why the Diamondbacks made this move. While their sights have been on Martinez for some time, Hazen admitted, the recent slump of dropping 11 of their previous 14 games, coming into play Tuesday, was not a principal reason for this deal.
"“With the inquires he have had, this was a time to address that situation,” he said. “We took a chance here that a need will be addressed and, at the same time, we are not in a situation to wait for injuries which may take longer, to heal. The focus is on this season and we’re committed 100 percent to put the best team in the field for 2017.”"
While most pundits seem to have written off the Detroit Tigers for any post-season play, the Tigers’ placement among contenders is little different from the Diamondbacks’ position. In the NL West, the Diamondbacks trail the division-leading Los Angeles Dodgers by 10.5 games, while the Tigers, at 42-49 coming into play Tuesday, were six games from the AL Central lead.
In the wild card race, the Diamondbacks had a 5.5 game lead over the Cubs, and the Tigers, coming into play Tuesday night, were six games behind the Tampa Rays.
Still, the Martinez acquisition seems to have helped at a critical time.
For now, Martinez is expected to play every day in left field and hit in the middle of the line-up. That would likely mean fourth against left-handers and fifth, behind Jake Lamb, against righties. At the same time, Martinez’s placement in the middle means Chris Owings, hitting fourth over the past few weeks, will likely drop in the order and could be more relaxed. Brandon Duruy will also drop, and that could have a positive effect on his bat.
On the diamond …
For the third time this season, lefty Robbie Ray played the role of “a stopper.” Previously, Ray won games which stopped two, three game losing streak.
After defeating the Cincinnati Reds 11-2 on Tuesday night, Ray’s victory snapped a five-game losing streak. Ray improved to 9-4 and dropped his ERA back under three runs per innings to 2.97.
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During the win, the Diamondbacks set a franchise record by slamming six extra-base hits in the fifth inning. As well, nine different players recorded at least one extra-base in the game, and that also broke the existing team record by one extra-base hit.
According to baseball-reference.com, this was the 25th time, dating back to 1913, that a NL team had each of the eighth starters recorded an extra-base hit.