There have been very few reports of who the Mets are targeting if their pursuit of Yoenis Cespedes comes up short, but Jon Heyman suggests that one name that has been floated by the team is J.D. Martinez. The Tiger, who was limited to just 120 games last year due to injury, had a breakout season in 2015, slugging 38 home runs and 33 doubles. In his injury-shortened 2016 season, he still hit 22 home runs and posted a 144 OPS+.
Martinez is entering the second year of a two-year, $18.5 million contract with Detroit. Heyman cites the Tigers’ need to cut payroll as a potential reason for flipping Martinez, and claims that “GMs” believe he will be traded.
While Martinez is a good bat when healthy, he is hardly the outfielder that Cespedes is, posting a career -5.8 dWAR against Cespedes’s -0.9 dWAR. While neither is expected to log much time in center, Cespedes has that ability, whereas Martinez has never played an inning in center as a major league player.
The fact that Martinez is on the last year of his contract is another reason why he may be available in trade, but that also means that the Mets will either have to re-sign the then 30-year-old Martinez to another contract, offer him a qualifying offer, or look elsewhere for outfield help in the same offseason that Curtis Granderson is set to hit free agency.
Heyman does not give any indication for what sort of trade package it would take Detroit to give up Martinez. The team is already boasting American League Rookie of the Year Michael Fulmer, a former Met farmhand who was acquired by Detroit for—wait for it—Yoenis Cespedes in 2015.
In the same article, Heyman suggests that Ryan Braun and Andrew McCutchen are potential Mets trade targets, as well, if the team fails to sign Cespedes.