The Dodgers signed designated hitter J.D. Martinez to a one-year, $10-million contract on December 29, 2022, adding the five-time All-Star for his age-35 season.
Martinez was listed by the team in the press release to announce his signing as a “designated hitter/outfielder,” though all 139 of his starts in 2022 with the Red Sox were as designated hitter. From 2019-21, Martinez started 268 games at DH and 78 games in the corner outfield.
Martinez hit .274/.341/.448 with 43 doubles, 16 home runs, and a 117 OPS+ with the Red Sox in 2022, making the All-Star team for the fourth time in the last five seasons.
In 12 major league seasons with the Astros, Tigers, D-backs, and Red Sox, Martinez is a .288/.352/.520 hitter with a 132 OPS+, 282 home runs, and 339 doubles. In Los Angeles he’s reunited with Mookie Betts, his teammate with the Red Sox in 2018 and 2019, and Robert Van Scoyoc, the Dodgers hitting coach who a decade earlier helped Martinez with a swing change that helped turn around his career.
The choice to go with Martinez is a change of pace for the Dodgers, who preferred to spread around the designated hitter starts as a way to give pseudo rest for several regulars in 2020 and 2022, the two years the National League had a DH all season. Justin Turner, who led the Dodgers with 61 starts as designated hitter in 2022, agreed to terms with the Red Sox on a reported two-year deal the day after Martinez agreed to terms with Los Angeles.
Martinez’s agent Scott Boras told Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic that Martinez took less money to join the Dodgers, suggesting his market rate was $16-17 million for one year.
“He wanted to win and he wanted to (optimize his ability). He felt the Dodgers were the best team to help him achieve those goals,” Boras told Rosenthal. “He made them fully aware he has every intention to play well and seek his true value in the seasons ahead.”
To make room for Martinez on the 40-man roster, the Dodgers designated pitcher Jake Reed for assignment. Reed, who has pitched for the Dodgers in each of the past two seasons, was acquired off waivers from Boston in November. He has been designated for assignment five times over the last five months.