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Mets and J.D. Martinez Re-Engage in Talks, Have 'Mutual Interest'

The Mets are one of the teams talking to the star designated hitter - and they should like their chances.

The New York Mets have locked in on their preferred - albeit pricey - option to be their designated hitter.

According to Jon Heyman of the New York Post, the Mets are not only in the mix for free agent slugger J.D. Martinez, but there is "mutual interest" from both sides. Despite being in the fourth-tier of the luxury tax, team owner Steve Cohen has given president of baseball operations David Stearns the green light to negotiate with Martinez.

Other teams involved in the Martinez sweepstakes include the Los Angeles Angels and Miami Marlins. The San Francisco Giants previously pursued the 36-year-old and even offered him $15 million, but Martinez turned them down due to not wanting to play in Oracle Park, which is known as the most extreme "pitcher's park" in the league. Citi Field, on the other hand, is much more neutral.

Martinez, a 13-year veteran, has been renowned for his exceptional batting prowess, but had to bet on himself in 2023. After a somewhat down year in 2022 with the Boston Red Sox that concluded a five-year deal with said club, he signed a one-year, $10 million deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers to be their primary designated hitter. He would enjoy a return to form by batting .271/.321/.572 with 27 doubles, 33 home runs, and 103 RBI; while the Dodgers would let him walk due to their pursuit and eventual signing of Shohei Ohtani, Martinez has arguably been the most desired DH option since that signing.

As for the Mets, they are not only looking for another strong bat, but one of their long-pursued goals was giving star slugger Pete Alonso (who bats cleanup) some much-needed lineup protection. Daniel Vogelbach was a previously failed attempt at addressing this, while the still-emerging Francisco Alvarez has yet to fully serve this role. With a hitter like Martinez, Alonso would have that ideal protection batting behind him.

It would be an expensive option for the Mets, though: they will be charged 110% in taxes on any new contracts they give out. As mentioned before, Martinez turned down a $15 million deal with the Giants (although the money wasn't the issue), so a deal in that price range for the Mets would cost them over $30 million. Nonetheless, with Cohen giving his blessing to Stearns to pursue Martinez, this shouldn't be an obstacle to them.

With Martinez showing interest in playing in Queens, the Mets can give their lineup a significant upgrade, which will aid their efforts toward competing for a playoff spot in 2024.