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J.D. Martinez contract isn’t a focus as D-backs fight for playoffs

Arizona Diamondbacks' J.D. Martinez (28) points to the sky as he arrives at home plate in front of Colorado Rockies' Jonathan Lucroy, left, after Martinez connected for a home run during the second inning of a baseball game Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2017, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
LISTEN: Mike Hazen, Diamondbacks GM

D-backs outfielder J.D. Martinez has earned a fitting nickname during his time in Arizona: “Just Dingers.”

Entering Wednesday, Martinez — whom the D-backs acquired in a trade with the Detroit Tigers at the deadline this season — has hit eight home runs in his last eight games. Since joining the D-backs, he’s hit 21 homers in 46 games.

So, as Martinez circles the bases seemingly every game, it’s natural for fans to wonder how long they’ll get to see him in a D-backs uniform. The slugger’s contract expires at the end of this season.

Are the D-backs looking to ink Martinez for the long haul, or was he just a trade deadline “rental?”

“On this front, we’ve been pretty consistent with this,” D-backs GM Mike Hazen told Doug & Wolf on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station on Wednesday. “It’s merely been, look — We’re focused on getting to the postseason. It’s been the goal of the 25 guys in the clubhouse the entire season. We don’t want to get in the way of that. We don’t want to put something in there that’s going to cause any type of distraction, either for the club or J.D. himself.

“We’re leaving this one alone right now. We’re focused on getting to the end and hopefully good things to come, and then we’ll deal with the offseason in the offseason.”

Hazen said he and the front office staff maintain dialogue with every player’s agent, but he nonetheless faces a tough reality.

Despite there being no salary cap in MLB, Hazen’s club is obligated to pay the final four years of Zack Greinke’s 6-year, $206.5 million contract. Perennial All-Star and MVP candidate Paul Goldschmidt is due a pay day when his bargain contract expires after next season.

A.J. Pollock is signed through this season and is arbitration-eligible in 2018. The same is true for Robbie Ray.’

But with Martinez’s outstanding numbers and apparent comfort-level with the D-backs, maybe Hazen and the ownership’s wallet will come together to make something work. The Mets did that for Yoenis Cespedes after acquiring what they believed would only be a rental in 2016.

Cespedes eventually got a four-year, $110 million contract from the Mets (coincidentally, the Mets originally traded for Cespedes from the Tigers).

“We’re fortunate to have [Martinez],” Hazen said. “He’s certainly carried us here offensively for the better part of a couple months now. It’s pretty amazing, pretty impressive what he’s done. His consistency in the middle of the lineup is something we needed, and hopefully it continues.”

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