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J.D. Martinez says he wants to finish his career with Detroit

DETROIT -- J.D. Martinez wants to remain a Detroit Tiger for life.

The 28-year-old right fielder, who had a sensational 2015 season, said on Thursday that he hoped to remain in Detroit on a long-term deal.

"This team gave me the opportunity and I would love to stay here as long as I can and hopefully finish my career next to Miggy [Miguel Cabrera], next to Victor [Victor Martinez] and stuff like that," Martinez said during Thursday's kickoff event for the club's Winter Caravan at Comerica Park. "That would be awesome and something that I would love."

Martinez, who led the Tigers with 38 HRs in 2015, is an important part of the team's nucleus, yet he remains unsigned heading into his scheduled salary arbitration date next month. He went into this offseason as one of four arbitration-level players, along with trade acquisition Justin Wilson, shortstop Jose Iglesias and infielder Andrew Romine. The Tigers settled with all three, avoiding the arbitration process.

Last Friday, Martinez's camp and the Tigers sent in their proposed salary figures for 2016, reportedly $8 million and $6 million, respectively, though the two sides still have up until the hearing date to agree on a deal.

Multiple sources told ESPN.com that the two sides intend to continue negotiations.

Martinez, who is due a sizable raise from the $3 million he made last season, said he was optimistic that a deal could get done before the salary arbitration hearing.

"I know we're confident on our side," Martinez said. "Obviously those things are out of [my] control. I leave all that business side of the stuff to the guys that that's what they know. I know going out there and hitting a baseball and trying to beat the guy on the mound."

Asked whether there was any concern about the potential implications of the Tigers recently signing Justin Upton to a monster six-year, $132.75 million contract, Martinez insisted that he viewed it as a positive development, not a possible impediment.

"I think it's great for us. I was excited about it. I was like, 'This is awesome. We have another bat in the lineup. It just makes our team that much better,' " Martinez said. "Everybody knows what he can do. I've been a fan of his for a while, just watching him and he's a great ballplayer, so I'm really excited to have him here."

At Upton's introductory news conference Wednesday, Tigers general manager Al Avila was posed a similar question about the current state of negotiations with his star corner outfielder and whether Upton's salary would be prohibitive in signing Martinez to a long-term deal.

"I can't really comment on the negotiations with J.D. Martinez, but I hope for the best," Avila said. "We love J.D. Martinez. As you know, I have a good history with him. And I think he's a very important part of this team. So obviously, we have him this year and next year through arbitration, but we're hoping we can make a deal with J.D. and we're hoping for the best."

Martinez did say he would prefer to not have the contract issue looming over him once the season begins.

"Once the season starts, I feel like, let's focus on the season and worry about winning a championship and getting Mr. Ilitch what he really wants," Martinez said, referring to Tigers owner Mike Ilitch.

Aside from soliciting advice from teammates both former (David Price) and present (Cabrera), Martinez has largely left the situation in the hands of his agent and tried not to let it affect his offseason training and preparation. "My job is to just worry about getting ready for the season and that's what I do," he said." I let Al and my agent do all the talking and negotiations and stuff like that."