J.D. Martinez will take the field in Los Angeles Dodgers blue in 2023, rejoining fellow ex-Boston Red Sox Mookie Betts in the process.
And the 35-year-old veteran couldn’t be more thrilled.
During his five-year tenure with the Red Sox, Martinez spent two seasons with Betts. Both right-handed hitters dominated in the batter’s box in 2018, at one point playing tug-of-war in the American League MVP conversation — which Betts won. And the two also helped hoist a World Series trophy, ironically enough, against the Dodgers in Martinez’s debut Boston season in 2018.
Now, set to share a clubhouse once more with Betts, Martinez offered what’s it like to reunite with the Los Angeles’ star outfielder.
“It’s exciting,” Martinez said, per SportsNet LA video. “You know, Mookie’s definitely a once-in-a-generation type player I feel like. And he’s got so much talent, so much ability. And a lot of hard work and he’s another guy like I said, it’s just the passion is there. And for some reason, I gravitate to people who are equally as passionate about baseball as I am. Same thing with Mook. We got attached really closely in 2018 and we’ve talked ever since.”
Martinez also shared that despite Betts’ departure from the Red Sox via trade in 2020, the two didn’t lose touch. In fact, their bond was strong enough to outlast a three-year split since last being side-by-side in Boston’s dugout back in 2019.
“We still talk about swings and he’ll still send me his videos to go over them,” Martinez said. “The last three years since he left Boston but it’s one of those things where we just developed a friendship. A really close friendship since that.”
Last season, Martinez batted .274 with 16 home runs, which were his fewest (aside from the pandemic-effected 2020 season) in eight seasons since 2017 with the Detroit Tigers. And after what amounted to a relatively down year for the five-time All-Star in 2022, Martinez signed a one-year deal worth $10 million with the Dodgers in free agency back in December.
Yet, while Martinez’s time in Boston ran its course, he’s both grateful and pleased with the opportunity ahead in Los Angeles in 2023.
“I was at the point of my career where I had made my contract, I had won a World Series already, I’ve been wanting to win another one,” Martinez said. “I’ve always respected the Dodgers and played against them for so many years. And they’re always in the playoffs. They’re always in the mix. And that’s one of the main reasons I’m here. Is for the opportunity to win. … Not many people can say they played for one of the biggest teams in the East and one of the biggest teams in the West.”