In terms of wins, 2019 was a horrible season. But in terms of the young Mariners, they showed some real promise out there. Yet there was something missing. Not a better mascot, the Moose is great. Not a new stadium name, T-Mobile Park is brand new and here to stay for a while. Let me give you a hint….do the names Robinson Cano or Nelson Cruz ring a bell? Of course, they do!
But it’s not just that we acquired them. It’s that they were a splash, a surprise splash at that. After four straight losing seasons, Cano was inked to a ten-year deal. And did he ever make an immediate impact? The 2014 Mariners were in the thick of the playoff race until the season’s final game and finally put together a winning season.
Almost exactly a year later, Nelson Cruz joined the Mariners on a four-year deal. For his entire tenure, Nellie was a true power presence. And he was one of the more clutch Mariners in recent memory as well. When either Cano or Cruz came up to bat, you knew they would do something to help the team out.
I’m sensing a common theme here. It’s that both ex-Mariners were sluggers. What do you think of when you hear that word? You probably think of someone who scares pitchers, someone who is always that intentional walk threat. Someone who, if they’re batting fourth in the inning, you want to just plow through the first three hitters and retire that side.
Even though Jack Zduriencik’s tenure as general manager was uneventful and plain bad, he made those bold moves of Cano and Cruz. After a few years of doubt, Zduriencik proved that he is willing to make that big offseason splash if a quick turnaround is needed. Don’t get me wrong, the Mariners had two losing seasons with Cano and Cruz during 2015 and 2017. Yet during the Cano and Cruz years, we always had a contender and therefore we always had a chance. Those guys just being there made a difference.
The current Mariners roster is once again promising and many look like potential difference makers. But we’re still missing that offseason splash. Dipoto is still yet to make that acquisition where like with Cano and Cruz, you’re left saying “really, those guys are Mariners?!” The guys we have in there are good building blocks but none of them scare opponents. A rebuild can’t solely be achieved with just call-ups. At least not if you want to rebuild sooner rather than later. You need at least one or two scare factors.
Which is why the Mariners should at least look into J.D. Martinez. If the rumors come true, neither Mookie Betts nor J.D. will return to Beantown in 2020. Both guys are great at what they do but we need J.D. more. Why you ask? Because of MLB’s free-agent-to-be list, he is classified as a designated hitter along with our former players, Nelson and Edwin.
J.D. Martinez is an interesting player. He was always one of the Tigers’ top players but never seemed to escape Miguel Cabrera‘s shadow. After he was traded to the Diamondbacks in 2017 to help spurt their playoff run, he resurrected his career. He hit almost 30 home runs during his not-too-long tenure in the desert.
He sure made an impression on the always competitive Red Sox as in his first season, he finished with an incredible season, hitting .330 with 43 homers and 130 RBI’s! Not only did J.D. not show any fluster or nerves in front of the tough New England fans, but he also had to fill the shoes of David Ortiz and did more than a fine job at it!
J.D.’s numbers were less highlighted this year due to the fact that the Red Sox missed the playoffs, therefore failing to defend their title. But he didn’t slow down, folks. He still had a better season than most could ask for, helping himself to another over .300 average, 36 homers, and 105 RBI’s.
If the Red Sox don’t want J.D. anymore or if he wants to opt-out, that’s fine. The hope is that he’ll go from a team showing signs of a rebuild to a team in the midst of one. Remember how we need at least one scary hitter? J.D. is just that, people! The man is still baseball young at 32. The only other free agent designated hitters with positive WAR’s this year were again our former guys in Nellie and Edi.
Jerry Dipoto needs to take a chance and pick up the rest of J.D.’s Red Sox contract to the tune of 3 years and 62.5 million big ones (if he opts out). Surprise the rest of your colleagues, Jerry. You’d bring some smiles to a fanbase who mostly know general managers going on the cheap with their free-agent signings. A player like him would scare opponents and help us become a winner again….faster.