Red Sox signing of reliever Chris Martin to 2-year deal is extremely promising
Get your Coldplay jokes ready, because the Red Sox are in agreement with Chris Martin on a two-year, $17.5M contract.
Red Sox signing reliever Chris Martin to 2-year deal
The signing is actually a homecoming for Martin, who spent several seasons playing independent ball after he went undrafted in 2006. In spring training in 2011, the Sox invited him to try out and signed him to a minor-league deal. They traded him and Franklin Morales to the Colorado Rockies in exchange for infielder Jonathan Herrera in December 2013.
Since Martin’s debut with the Rockies in 2014, he’s pitched for the Yankees, Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters in Japan, Texas Rangers, Atlanta Braves, Chicago Cubs, and Los Angeles Dodgers. He has a career 3.84 ERA, 119 ERA+, 3.10 FIP, and 1.151 WHIP over 269 regular-season appearances in the Majors.
The contract is a substantial raise for the 36-year-old pitcher, who signed for $2.5M (plus incentives) with the Cubs last March, but it’s not a surprise given his incredible, albeit brief stint in Los Angeles. The Dodgers acquired him the weekend before the trade deadline, and he posted a 1.46 ERA with 34 strikeouts and only walk one and one home run allowed over 24 2/3 regular-season innings. Opposing batters hit .135/.152/.191 against him, if that can even be considered hitting.
To say that Martin excels at limiting walks is an understatement. He’s averaged nine walks per 162 games so far in his career and has a 3.3% BB rate for his career. In 2022, he issued five walks in 56 innings (only one in his 24 2/3 innings for the Dodgers) for a 2.2% BB rate; league average is 8.3%. According to Alex Speier of the Boston Globe, his career walk rate is the lowest among active big leaguers (minimum 200 innings). He’s also a more than solid strikeout pitcher: 25.3% K rate for his career, 32.9% in 2022. By comparison, the only Red Sox reliever with single-digit walks in over 30 innings this year was Garrett Whitlock, and the bullpen’s 9.9% BB rate was sixth-highest in the majors.
It’s unclear as of yet if the Sox consider Martin a closer candidate. He’s worked primarily as a setup man throughout his career, with 95 2/3 frames of eighth-inning work, compared to 41 2/3 ninth innings. He spent 2022 in middle-relief and set-up spots, pitching exactly 15 sixth innings, 15 seventh innings, and 14 1/2 eighth innings. Only four times did he pitch the ninth, though he didn’t allow a run in any of them.
If the Sox are able to build a contender this year, Martin offers them solid postseason experience. He only has 14 1/3 career innings of postseason work under his belt, but he’s allowed just three runs across seven series in four years. He won the Japan series with the Ham Fighters in 2016 and got a ring with the Braves last year.