Mazz: New rules mean a sudden change of identity for J.D. Martinez

By Tony Massarotti, 98.5 The Sports Hub

“I can play outfield. It’s tough with this outfield, obviously. I’m not saying I’m at that level, but I’m not a liability,” said Martinez. “If you’re expecting some kind of miracle Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr. play, that’s not my ability that I was given — but I feel like I can do a fair job of holding my own out there.”

- J.D. Martinez, March 2019

“You’re asking a biased person here. I’m all for it. Obviously I’m a DH.”

- J.D. Martinez, July 2020

 

OK, so I admit it: I can be a bit of a smart ass. But when I saw the above comment from J.D. Martinez over the weekend, my eyes rolled.

So now you’re a DH?

Funny how that works.

Now, baseball being baseball – or, more specifically, business being business – this isn’t all that difficult to figure out. Two seasons ago, when Martinez signed with Boston, playing the outfield was a critical point for him and his agent, the chameleon known as Scott Boras. Martinez didn’t get the contract he wanted on the open market - mostly because everyone regarded him as a designated hitter - so he agreed to a deal with multiple opt-out clauses and made it clear that he regarded himself as an outfielder.

His reasoning, of course, was simple: calling yourself a designated hitter cuts your potential suitors in half, which minimizes your market. More potential suitors means more leverage, so Martinez wanted to make himself as available to National League teams as well as America League clubs.

Now here we are, two years later, and suddenly Martinez regards himself as a DH. Hmmm. How convenient. In case you missed it, baseball will employ a universal DH this year – that means in both leagues – and the rule will almost certainly carry over into the next bargaining agreement between players and owners. The days of pitchers batting for themselves have likely gone the way of the payphone, so guys like Martinez no longer need to be so disingenuous.

You’re a DH, dude. You pretty much always have been. The only one who didn’t want to admit it was you.

Until, of course, you could do so without sacrificing half the job market.

You can hear Tony Massarotti weekdays from 2-6 p.m. EST on the Felger & Massarotti program. Follow him on Twitter @TonyMassarotti.