There’s no argument that what Jose Martinez has done at the plate to begin his career is impressive. In a little more than 900 plate appearances, Martinez has hit .309 with 31 home runs and 130 runs batted in. His .372 on-base and .850 OPS also standout.
And if you’re around the St. Louis Cardinals clubhouse on a regular basis, it’s hard to find someone who has a smile on their face more often than Martinez. Always appreciative to be in the big leagues, Jose readily accepted whatever his role was for that particular day–starting, coming off the bench, playing first base, outfield, whatever he was asked.
Martinez is also among those who understands his defense is not at the same level of his offense, which is why he was regularly out before games working with Jose Oquendo and Oliver Marmol to improve.
Factor in that he is not even eligible for arbitration until 2020 and there is a lot to like about Jose Martinez.
That being said, Martinez could be an interesting name as the Cardinals discuss various moves this week at the MLB Winter Meetings.
“Are we happy with going into the season with him? The answer is yes,” John Mozeliak said on Friday. “But I think if we had the ability to find him a better place where he might get more opportunity, we should explore that–if it touches on something we need. But we’re not going into the season where we feel like we have to move him just to move him.”
To help keep his bat in the lineup last season, the Cardinals played Martinez at first base for 675 innings before his return to a greater comfort in right field. Obviously, the newly acquired Paul Goldschmidt will handle the large bulk of play at first base and for now, Dexter Fowler is looked at as the right fielder.
Martinez and Tyler O’Neill are the fourth and fifth outfielders. And both bat right-handed on a roster that is in need of a left-handed hitting utility player.
“I think he’s an exciting player, but at-bats are going to be tough,” Mozeliak continued. “Especially given the move we just made. So I think we have to be open-minded in how we want to think through that, but if we got to the end of spring training and he was still part of our team, we’d be fine with that.”
The acquisition of Goldschmidt also affects Jedd Gyorko, who will now play behind Matt Carpenter at third base. But with Gyorko’s ability to play multiple positions, he can spell Carpenter or Kolten Wong against left-handed pitchers as needed. Of course, so can Yairo Munoz, which could lead to some interesting decisions for the Cardinals.
While the impression was given that the Cardinals have their big bat and will look for an additional bat to be of the utility variety, Mozeliak was much less specific when asked if they will target a closer or other type of bullpen help.
“I’m open to anything,” he stated. “The way we’re approaching the next two months is if we can find some arms that we think can benefit us, we will pursue them.”
photo credit: Joe Puetz, Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports