Interest grows for Martinez leading up to Winter Meetings

Interest grows for Martinez leading up to Winter Meetings

DETROIT -- The list of potential destinations for Tigers slugger J.D. Martinez keeps growing as the Winter Meetings near. So, too, does the potential motivation for Detroit to trade him.

As Tigers officials measure the ramifications of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, they've held discussions with the Phillies on a potential deal for Martinez, according to MLB Network insider and columnist Jon Paul Morosi. Those talks have not progressed beyond the initial stages, but they reinforce what others around the industry are saying: Of all the Tigers veterans available to trade, Martinez is the most likely to go.

Hot Stove Tracker

The Phillies join a list of reported suitors that includes the Dodgers and Giants. The Mets also reportedly discussed Martinez before they re-signed Yoenis Cespedes earlier this week to a four-year, $110 million contract, a deal that could greatly shape Martinez's potential free-agent market next offseason.

Martinez is under contract for $11.75 million in 2017, the back half of a two-year deal he signed last winter to take care of his final two arbitration-eligible seasons. That cost certainty, even in the short term, is an advantage for any team.

Given that, Martinez would seemingly have value for the Tigers to keep around for one more year and gain a compensation Draft pick if he signs elsewhere. However, the new CBA dramatically lowers the value of that pick.

If Martinez was a free agent this offseason, the Tigers could have made him a qualifying offer and recouped a Draft pick late in the first round if he signed elsewhere. Under the new CBA, only smaller-market teams get a first-round compensation pick if they lose free agents, and only if they sign for more than $50 million. Other teams get later picks.

J.D. Martinez's two-run homer

Moreover, teams that are over the luxury tax threshold -- as the Tigers currently are, and will be again if they don't reduce payroll by at least $20 million or so -- will only get a compensation pick between the fourth and fifth rounds for free agents who sign with another club. That's a huge difference for a team looking to not only get leaner financially but also recoup younger talent.

Unlike many other potential trade targets on the Tigers' roster, Martinez has no-trade veto rights in his deal.

Martinez, who turns 30 in August, hit .307 with 35 doubles, 22 home runs and 68 RBIs in 2016. His .908 OPS led all Major League right fielders with a qualifying number of at-bats, including American League Most Valuable Player Award runner-up Mookie Betts. Martinez's .299 average and .898 OPS since '14, his first season in Detroit, rank sixth among all Major League outfielders, while his .540 slugging percentage is fourth.

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.