Martinez has had a career year at age 36 for the Detroit Tigers, as he has hit .335/.406/.571 with a 165 wRC+ and a .411 wOBA. The 30 home runs Martinez has hit already are a career high. He is the only player in MLB with an OBP that is over .400 and has an amazingly low 6.8 percent K rate. Martinez’ .315 BABIP is right in line with his career rate, so that suggests that he has not been overly lucky to have this career year.
Obviously, the Yankees need a hitter producing like Martinez and more than one of them. Their offense this year is among the worst in franchise history and has made this season brutal to watch. However, Martinez just does not seem to fit into the Yankees right now.
The Yankees desperately need to get younger, and Martinez would add another old position player to go along with Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez and Carlos Beltran. Rodriguez and Beltran will likely need significant DH time, which is where Martinez would have to play when Teixeira is healthy. Having Rodriguez and Beltran in the field all the time hurts your defense and might cause them to break down even faster.
Martinez offers nothing defensively, so his whole value is tied into his bat. He is showing zero decline with his bat right now, but how likely is it that he can produce at at MVP level again? He should be still be a very good hitter next year, but it seems like too much to ask to have another season like this.
The thing that should help Martinez as he continues to get later in his career is his batting eye. He has a career .372 OBP and a 9.5 percent walk rate. That should be big for him if his bat speed starts to decline.
People probably forget just how good Beltran was for the Cardinals last season. He hit .296/.339/.491 with 24 home runs and a 131 wRC+. That's not on Martinez' level, but still very productive.
This year has been nothing like that for Beltran and maybe his elbow injury has a lot to do with that, but it could also be just natural regression has finally caught up to him. There were no signs that was coming for Beltran, but it can just happen out of nowhere when you're 37 years old.
The conundrum for the Yankees is that they do need to get a lot better quickly if they have any interest in competing next season, which Martinez would be able to help with. Of course they thought signing Beltran, Jacoby Ellsbury and Brian McCann would do that for them this year. They miscalculated how much losing Robinson Cano would be worth. The ironic thing is that they are paying Beltran the type of money they did not want to pay Cano at the back end of his deal and would be doing the same with Martinez.
It will be very interesting to see if the Yankees double down on more expensive free agents this winter or if they try to get younger. If they go the big free agent route Nelson Cruz might make more sense than Martinez because he would have more of a position to play, although Cruz comes with a ton of health questions and Martinez is much better at getting on base.
Another option is Pablo Sandoval, who just turned 28 years old last month and is having a solid year. He offers much more defensively than Martinez, so his 3.5 WAR is only .4 points lower than Martinez'. Sandoval is another option that I like better than Martinez.
One way or another the offseason cannot get here quickly enough at this point.