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D-backs owner Ken Kendrick: Keeping J.D. Martinez is a ‘balancing act’

Arizona Diamondbacks right fielder J.D. Martinez smiles as he talks with another player during practice Monday, Oct. 2, 2017, at Chase Field for a National League wild-card playoff baseball game in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

LISTEN: Ken Kendrick, D-backs managing partner

Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder J.D. Martinez is a free agent this offseason, and however you evaluate his value on a baseball team, a player who hit .303 with 45 home runs and 104 RBI in 2017 is not going to be cheap.

So, who better to ask about the chances of him coming back to the D-backs than the team’s owner Ken Kendrick?

Kendrick joined 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station’s Burns & Gambo to discuss Martinez and other storylines surrounding the team.

“The answer is that it is to be determined,” Kendrick said of keeping Martinez. “In terms of wanting a player of his caliber on our club — of course we do.

“He was a great shot in the arm and his numbers are just overpowering.”

Martinez’s accolades as a D-back are staggering compared to past “rentals.” He hit 29 home runs in 62 games and won NL Player of the Month in September after tying a league record with 16 homers in the month.

Kendrick said the team already had a meeting Tuesday and there will be a plan formulated over the next week or two in regards to offseason plans, such as keeping Martinez in. He re-affirmed the team’s position on pursuing Martinez and called the economics of doing so “a balancing act.”

He also spoke on Zack Greinke’s first two seasons in the Valley and gave credit to Greinke for hanging around in Game 3 of the NLDS, calling him “kind of a magician” to manage to get to the sixth inning.

Greinke’s outing was not what the team had hoped for, but despite a shaky performance that included a season-high five walks, Greinke exited the game at only a 3-1 deficit, giving the offense a chance to still win the game.

Speaking of Greinke, Kendrick did not shoot down the notion of trading him, and instead was leaving anything on the table in regards to the decision makers he works with on the team.

“What we owe to the benefit of the organization is a complete look at the entire roster and the gives and takes of if we move this guy what would the replacement potentially look like and it’s a little bit like a chess game,” Kendrick said.

Greinke, of course, signed a six-year $206.5 million deal at the end of 2015 with Arizona. He is slated to make at least $34 million each of the next four seasons of that deal. The magnitude of Greinke’s deal will make it more difficult for the team to navigate bringing back Martinez and re-signing other key players like Paul Goldschmidt and A.J. Pollock. Yasmany Tomas’ contract also plays a big role in the D-backs’ flexibility. Tomas’ $68 million contract escalates from $13.5 million a season in 2018 all the way up to $17 million in 2020.

With the problems that could potentially bring, Kendrick is still very confident in the group he has making the key decisions.

“One of the best things I can say about the situation is I think we have some master chess players making these decisions,” Kendrick said. “At the end, they’ll come back to me and say ‘Ken, we think we should do the following here’s why, etc. etc.’ but I have a lot of faith in this young management team and they are going to have a lot of freedom to do what they think is smart.”


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