With Stanton set, who nets next big fish in J.D.?

Considering 10 potential fits for free-agent slugger

December 12th, 2017

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- They brought up to a podium here Monday and put him in pinstripes for the first time. With that, the premier power hitter of his time and the newest New York Yankee was officially off the board as baseball's Winter Meetings began with a bang.
Now that Stanton's future is finally settled, attention can turn to the market's next-most attractive power prize. J.D. Martinez doesn't possess Stanton's sheer size or star power, so maybe he doesn't fire up the imagination of the casual fan in quite the same way. But 29 homers in just 62 games after a midseason trade to the D-backs in 2017? A Major League-leading .690 slugging percentage in 489 plate appearances? A barrels-per-plate-appearance rate second only to that of ? That stuff is bound to fire up the imagination of some general managers and owners, even when you factor in the health and defensive concerns.
Hot Stove Tracker
Because Martinez has an agent in Scott Boras who usually bides his time and sets a high asking price, it could be a while before his situation is settled. But we can certainly speculate where his power and earning power profile best. Here are 10 potential fits, broken into four tiers.
You've got to squint pretty hard
Phillies: Well, we love it when a "mystery team" materializes, don't we? And with 's contract literally the only long-term financial commitment on the Phillies' books, they have the flexibility to be that team in this free-agent market. But it's not likely to happen with Martinez. The Phils have been eyeing up that 2018 free-agent market (read: and Manny Machado) for quite a while.
Dodgers: For the sake of completeness, we should probably include the Dodgers in any conversation about a high-priced free-agent prize, but as evidenced with the way the Stanton negotiations went down, the Andrew Friedman regime has actually been careful about the management of the long-term payroll picture, and there's not a clearly defined need in the corner outfield.
Indians: The Tribe is in win-now mode and has a need for a right-handed power bat that can man a corner outfield spot. A year ago, nobody really expected the Indians to reel in , but market conditions brought him down to a price tag they found palatable. Maybe that'll happen again here. (Spoiler: It's probably not going to happen again here.)
Orioles: The Stanton trade could compel the O's to blow it up and move Machado and Zach Britton. But if they do decide to try to stay in the hunt in the American League East in 2018, not only does Martinez fit their general power-prone profile, but he also gets on base (a .375 OBP the past two years) -- an asset the Orioles' lineup sorely needs. Anyway, if Baltimore was to spend big, it would likely be on pitching.

Not expected but not totally inconceivable
Rockies: The Rox have some financial wiggle room and the free agencies of longtime right fielder and first baseman means they can be flexible in how they approach their roster construction this offseason. And any scenario that ties a power hitter of the ilk of Martinez to Coors Field is an enticing one. But Colorado has a lot of innings to fill in its bullpen and is simply more likely to look for more cost-effective solutions on the position player side of things.
Blue Jays: There is a hole in right field created by 's free-agent departure (and you could say Bautista's supbar production in 2017 made for a hole in the first place). The Blue Jays are trying to do right by a supportive fan base by not blowing up one of the oldest rosters in the big leagues, and replacing Encarnacion's lost power and production has proven difficult. So hey, maybe. But while this organization is not going the full-rebuild route, it is generally trying to steer toward a younger and more flexible look in the not-too-distant future.
Now we're getting somewhere
D-backs: No mystery here. Obviously, the D-backs love them some Martinez. And how could you not after he hit a homer every eight trips to the plate for them? The Zack Greinke contract, in particular, makes this a bit of a square peg/round hole situation at the present price tag, but Arizona is not out, by any means. There were rumblings in the lobby Monday that the D-backs could extend themselves more than they've let on publicly. Don't rule out a reunion here.

J.D. (Just Do It)
The three teams feeling the Stanton ripple effects double as the three teams that make the most sense for Martinez.
Giants: Though they have paid the luxury tax three straight years, the Giants went hard after Stanton -- evidence that they are earnest in their attempt to recover from their rough finish in 2017. But there were several factors that made Stanton more desirable for them than Martinez. Stanton is younger and would have brought significantly greater defensive value (10 defensive runs saved above average last year vs. Martinez's one), which is an extremely important consideration for a club in dire need of improving defensively in the outfield. Furthermore, Stanton's prominent pull-side power profiled better for the pitchers' haven known as AT&T Park than Martinez's more opposite-field-heavy approach. But is San Francisco actively trying to get significantly better? Yes. Would Martinez make the Giants significantly better? Yes.
Red Sox: When the Yankees make a major move, the Red Sox often follow with a major move (and vice versa). That's how the world works, folks. Team president Dave Dombrowski has already made it clear that the luxury tax threshold will not guide Boston's decision-making process this offseason, which is a great start in the Martinez market. However, it is highly unlikely that the Red Sox will sign both Martinez and , who is Boras' other prized position-player client in this market. And though Boston had a screaming need for power in 2017 and Hosmer wouldn't bring nearly as much of that commodity as Martinez would, the left-handed-hitting Hosmer's opposite-field approach and his currently unfilled position at first base are better fits. Again, though, the Red Sox are motivated to bring in an impact bat, all the more now that their fiercest rivals have made such a major move.

Cardinals: A hugely important offseason in St. Louis got off to a hugely frustrating start with Stanton's refusal to accept a trade to the Cards. So the pressing need for a middle-of-the-order masher remains. While Martinez might ultimately profile best with an AL club that will have the DH spot available to him eventually, the desperation to catch up to the Cubs, the long-term payroll picture that, thanks to one of the more passionate fan bases in the game, has the room to take on a major contract like the one Martinez will command make this as good a fit as any. The X-factor is the trade market, where the Cardinals do have depth to deal for a run-producing bat (things didn't work out with Stanton, but the Cards still have their eye on the rest of the Marlins outfield in and ).