Did you hear? J.D. Martinez was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks yesterday. The reactions to the trade came in real hot, with the consensus being overwhelming disappointment among Detroit Tigers fans. I could paste in about 100 reactions from Tigers Twitter, including my own GIF of trash cans, but I’d say this pretty accurately sums up the fans’ feelings:
Peanuts. Literally Peanuts. Trying to immediately judge a trade on 18 and 21-year-olds is pretty silly, but when the highest regarded player in the trade is the fourth ranked prospect in one of the worst systems in the league, fans are going to be skeptical. The truth of the matter is that it was a buyer’s market. Demand for a rental was low, even one as good as Martinez.
J.D. Martinez was perhaps most coveted position player in a market in which there are relatively few teams buying on rental position players— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) July 18, 2017
remember, jd martinez is a rental hitter in a market where there weren't a ton of anxious buyers for that position.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) July 18, 2017
Asked one MiLB prospect expert for one word to describe #Tigers return. "Haha is a good word for it. Light would be a more polite one."— Tony Paul (@TonyPaul1984) July 18, 2017
General consensus from three scouts who recently have canvassed the D-backs' system: The Tigers' return for J.D. Martinez was very light.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) July 18, 2017
It wasn’t all doom and gloom, though. Wilson Karaman from Baseball Prospectus digs Sergio Alcantara and Heyman rates the package as “solid.” And hey, the Tigers front office was thrilled. Thrilled!
The #Tigers are thrilled with return, too, particularly Dawel Lugo, who former GM Dave Stewart originally acquired in Cliff Pennington trade— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) July 18, 2017
Others weren’t so kind. Our own Nolan Meister has serious questions about the front office.
Al Avila has done little since taking over in 2015 to show that he is capable of performing the same sort of rebuild. His roster decisions have been baffling for two years now, and the decision to stand inactive at the 2016 trade deadline is looking worse and worse in hindsight. I have lost my faith in Avila to competently run the Detroit Tigers, especially through something as difficult as a deadline rebuild.
FanGraphs mostly focused on how J.D. Martinez improves the D-Backs (as they should), but Dave Cameron was surprised at the low return.
Obviously things can change during a season, but these are three kind of shocking names to be traded for an elite hitter, even a rental one. Eric had Lugo as the best prospect of the trio last winter, giving him a 40 FV and ranking him as the team’s 10th best prospect. Alcantara was in the others of note section. King wasn’t mentioned.
Lynn Henning of the Detroit News clapped back at the haters and put on his best “I told you so” suit.
The Diamondbacks were the only serious bidders. And they had made clear they were headed elsewhere if they couldn’t get a deal done this week for Martinez.
The Tigers decided on a trio of prospect infielders they like at least 100 percent more than fans. And probably more than unnamed scouts who told people such as Yahoo.com’s Jeff Passan the Tigers’ return was light.
Henry Druschel of Beyond the Box Score doesn’t buy the “Al Avila doesn’t know what he’s doing” narrative.
Explanation number two is that the talent levels of each side are evaluated differently by the public and by the insiders. ...maybe the Tigers view these prospects more positively. Teams have less of an opportunity to gain technological edges over the public when it comes to prospects, but they have much greater resources in the form of scouting and coaching, and it’s possible that repeated looks at one or all of the players in this deal led them to see something we don’t.
And finally, explanation number three is that we’re evaluating the contract situations of the two packages differently than the Tigers and Diamondbacks are. While J.D. Martinez is talented, he’s also a free agent this offseason.
ESPN’s Keith Law didn’t like the return either.
This seems like a very light return for JD Martinez even as a rental; I don't think Arizona gave up any of their top ten prospects in the deal, but they got a player who's probably worth two wins to them the rest of the season.
The best way to judge this trade may be based on how the opposing side feels. Our friends at AZ Snakepit are quite pleased this morning.
At the end of the day, the trade signaled that the team is selling and prospects are a crap shoot. The only reaction that really matters is that of J.D. Martinez, and he couldn’t have been more gracious out the door. In a final interview, he shows complete understanding of the situation and nothing but love for Detroit and it’s fans.