MLB Rumors: Dodgers don't extend QO to J.D. Martinez to prep for Shohei Ohtani pursuit
The Los Angeles Dodgers will not extend a qualifying offer to trusty DH J.D. Martinez, which will allow him to hit free agency. One might be curious as to why the Dodgers wouldn't work to keep Martinez around, but there's a rather simple explanation.
Los Angeles has bigger fish to fry.
According to Jack Harris of the Los Angeles Times, the decision is tied to the Dodgers' pursuit of Shohei Ohtani, who would take over the DH slot if he signs with LAD. The Dodgers are taking the same approach with Clayton Kershaw, who is expected to take his time to make a free agent decision.
No risk, no reward. The Dodgers don't want to lose Martinez for nothing. He walloped the baseball to the tune of 33 home runs and 103 RBIs last season while slashing .271/.321/.572 — pretty darn good! A lot of the attention in Los Angeles gets paid to Mookie Betts or Freddie Freeman or Max Muncy, but Martinez was an essential slugger in the middle of that lineup.
Of course, it will all end well if the Dodgers can lure Ohtani away from their cross-town rivals. Ohtani was the best bat in baseball last season — .304/.412/.654 with 44 home runs and 95 RBIs — and the hope is that he can eventually pitch again once he recovers from his UCL injury. The Dodgers are typically big spenders and should have no qualms about approaching Ohtani's rumored ballpark of $500 million.
If the Dodgers whiff on Ohtani and Martinez bolts for a new team, however, it could be difficult for the front office to adequately pivot. There's risk, but the risk is worth it when Ohtani is the prize.