J.D. Martinez Traded from Tigers to Diamondbacks for Prospects

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistJuly 18, 2017

Detroit Tigers' J.D. Martinez bats during the fourth inning of a baseball game against the Chicago White Sox, Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2016, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

The Detroit Tigers started to build for the future Tuesday, trading All-Star right fielder J.D. Martinez to the Arizona Diamondbacks.

The Tigers announced they acquired infielders Dawel Lugo, Sergio Alcantara and Jose King in exchange for Martinez. Lugo and Alcantara ranked fourth and 15th among Diamondbacks prospects, according to MLB.com. Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan first reported the sides had agreed to a deal.

Detroit missed the playoffs for the second consecutive season in 2016, and executive vice president of baseball operations and general manager Al Avila said in October there would be changes to how the team operates.

"We want to get younger," he said, via Jason Beck of MLB.com. "We want to get leaner. We want to run the organization without having to go over our means. We want to stay competitive, but at the same time, this organization has been working way above its means for some time."

Instead, the Tigers largely stood pat in the offseason and hoped to build off last year's 86-win campaign. It hasn't worked, however, as they are 42-49 and fighting with the Chicago White Sox to avoid the American League Central cellar.

Martinez was one of Detroit's most valuable trade assets. He is signed through 2017 with an affordable $11.75 million salary, per Spotrac.

According to Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal, Arizona assumed the balance of Martinez's contract.

The Diamondbacks acquired Martinez only three months before he'll become an unrestricted free agent, but he's just 29 years old and has turned himself into one of the American League's best power hitters. He's hitting .305/.388/.630 with 16 home runs in 57 games this season.

Those numbers should be a welcome sight for Arizona. Left fielder Yasmany Tomas has hit for power with a .464 slugging percentage, but his .294 on-base percentage makes it hard to justify playing him every day.

Tomas also isn't expected to return until August after he was placed on the 60-day disabled list with a strained right groin.

Martinez's presence won't be enough for the Diamondbacks to close the 10.5-game gap between themselves and the National League West-leading Los Angeles Dodgers, but they have a half-game lead for the first wild-card spot and are six games ahead of the Chicago Cubs, who are third in the wild-card race.

This was an opportune moment for the Tigers to capitalize on Martinez's value because the crop of available power hitters during a season is rarely appealing. The prospects Detroit got in exchange will also help beef up its farm system, which Baseball America ranked 25th in MLB in February (Arizona was 28th).

Martinez will add depth to the middle of the Diamondbacks' already potent lineup, as he's capable of hitting for average, getting on base and providing plenty of power. Those players are hard to find and can transform a batting order in a hurry.

Arizona looks more formidable now and will be a threat the rest of this season and into the postseason with Martinez aboard.