The Mets are interested in Maikel Franco, likely as a replacement for Martínez as a potential bench piece.
Today, Luis Rojas announced that José Martínez has a torn meniscus in his left knee, which will sideline him for about four months. He will require surgery to repair the knee, which he will undergo this weekend. Martínez suffered the injury during Sunday’s spring training game against the Marlins, as he lunged for a ground ball down the line and his cleat caught awkwardly, twisting his knee. The injury appeared serious and Martínez required assistance to get off the field. He was reevaluated today and the bad news was confirmed.
It is a shame for the 32-year-old Martínez, who had a shot to break camp with the Mets as a righty bench bat to complement their left-handed heavy lineup. Although he is not well regarded for his defensive abilities, Martínez posted back-to-back stellar seasons with the bat with the Cardinals in 2017 and 2018, posting a 136 wRC+ and a 127 wRC+ in those two seasons, respectively. He has declined since and was looking to rebound from a dismal 2020 season in which he put up a .182/.265/.295 slash line over 34 games with both the Rays and the Cubs.
In news that is likely related to Martínez’s devastating diagnosis that will cost him a good chunk of the season, the Mets are among the teams interested in free agent third baseman Maikel Franco, according to Jon Heyman. Franco is a well-known player to the Mets, having played most of his career with the division rival Phillies (and seemingly always killing the Mets any chance he got) before posting a 109 OPS+ as the starting third baseman for the Royals in 2020. Although he had a solid debut season in Kansas City, his arbitration salary proved to be too rich for the Royals’ blood and he was non-tendered in December.
Franco is primarily a third baseman with some limited appearances at first base. Between J.D. Davis, Jeff McNeil, Jonathan Villar, and Luis Guillorme, the Mets have no shortage of players on the roster that can play third base, but Franco is another righty that could provide 15-20 home run power for the Mets off the bench and would be a useful addition, albeit one without a position—much like Martínez.