Former Detroit Tigers right fielder J.D. Martinez (28) eyes home plate as he scores on a Nick Castellanos double at PNC Park in Pittsburgh on April 14, 2016. File photo by Shelley Lipton/UPI | License Photo
When Detroit Tigers slugger J.D. Martinez got the news from general manager Al Avila on Tuesday that he had been traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks for a prospect package, things got emotional.
The 29-year-old Martinez calls Detroit home after the franchise gave him the opportunity to become a breakout slugger. He took hold of the opportunity by batting over .300 in three of four seasons with Detroit after spending his first three major league campaigns with the Houston Astros. He has a .283 batting average with 123 homers and 224 RBIs in 710 games over his seven major league seasons.
"It's definitely tough," Martinez said. "I love this organization. I love the fans. I love everything in Detroit. That's home for me. I've always said that.
"They were the organization that believed in me when everybody else passed. They were the ones who gave me the opportunity when everybody else didn't. I had a feeling this was coming, this was on the horizon. I wish it could have been different.
"I wish we would have come out and been hot and been in first place right now."
However, heading into Tuesday night's games, the Tigers were next-to-last in the American League Central, six games behind the Cleveland Indians and five games out of a wild-card spot.
Avila got an offer from the Diamondbacks -- minor league infielders Dawel Lugo, Sergio Alcantara and Jose King -- he felt was acceptable, and decided to pull the trigger on the first major deal in what looks to be a trade-deadline dismantling.
"It was a very different process for me," Avila said. "(J.D. and I) were crying. It's very hard. This is not what you plan to do. We all want to win. We want to keep our players. But at some point, it's the best thing for the organization."
Despite the emotion, Martinez said he understands the business side of things.
"Me and Al go way back," Martinez said. "He's like family to me, close to family as you can get in baseball. I know it was hard for him. Like I told him, there is no animosity to it. I know it's hard, but I get it, I understand the situation you're in. I understand what you have to do. Like completely, I'm not mad about it.
"Obviously, I wish I could have stayed here. I wish we were in first place. I'm glad he let it go this long and not do it before the season. It's tough."
Now Martinez joins a D-backs squad in playoff contention. Arizona currently holds a wild-card spot in the National League, although it is well behind the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West.
"And all of a sudden, we're in the playoff hunt here," Martinez said of Arizona. "God has got other plans. That's where he wants me. I've just got to take it for what it is and be excited in joining another good organization in Arizona. I've just got to go out there and help them win."