Things had unraveled rather quickly for Mets roster hopeful, Jose Martinez.
The now-32-year-old first baseman and right fielder was one of the more promising bats on the St. Louis Cardinals’ roster over a two-year span from 2018-19 where he batted .306 with an .847 OPS and a 162-game average of 20 home runs and 82 RBI.
But after a down 2019, he was dealt to the Tampa Bay Rays with what turned out to be last year’s postseason hero, Randy Arozarena — who played a huge part in getting the Rays to their second-ever World Series — for a pair of prospects and a supplemental draft pick.
While Arozarena thrived, Martinez wouldn’t even last the year in Tampa Bay as he was traded to the Chicago Cubs, slashing a combined .182/.265/.295 (.561 OPS) with two home runs and 10 RBI.
Now he finds himself in New York on a one-year, $1 million deal with the Mets where he’s competing for a bench spot and not much else.
First base is occupied by Pete Alonso where Dominic Smith will back him up while the corner-outfield spots are taken — whether it’s by Michael Conforto in right or Smith in left.
“It’s a hard market. My situation from last year didn’t end the way I wanted it,” Martinez said on Wednesday after drawing two walks in the Mets’ loss to those very same Cardinals. “I’m here just to take all the opportunities and give my 150% every day.”
Martinez cited his offseason work down in Venezuela as a spark for getting his MLB career back on track where he’s hoping those first steps can be taken in Queens.
“I was getting all the reps,” he said of his winter work. “Not so much on the defensive side… but the mental stuff. Just go out and make the plays…. That’s the one thing you want to take advantage of [when called upon], that’s what the team needs.”
He could get the occasional game in the outfield or at first base or even as a designated-hitting option should during the inter-league slate of games, but New York’s new-found depth on the bench will ensure that there will be a healthy competition for at-bats.
This offseason alone, the Mets have brought in Jonathan Villar, Kevin Pillar, and Albert Almora Jr. to bolster their ranks.
“It’s a great group of guys. It’s a talented team,” he said. “By the end, we just go at it with 100% professionalism. We’re here to win.”