The Red Sox have agreed to terms on a two-year, $17.5 million contract with free agent reliever Chris Martin, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan. The deal is pending a physical.
Martin, 36, is a veteran of seven major-league seasons who split the 2022 campaign between the Cubs and Dodgers. The right-hander posted a 4.31 ERA and 3.02 FIP with 40 strikeouts to four walks in 34 appearances (31 1/3 innings) with Chicago before being traded to Los Angeles for infielder Zach McKinstry in late July.
In 26 appearances out of the Dodgers bullpen, Martin pitched to a dazzling 1.46 ERA and 1.13 FIP with 34 punchouts to just one walk over 24 2/3 innings of relief. He did not allow a run in either of his two outings against the Padres in the National League Division Series.
Martin’s journey through pro ball has certainly been a unique one. The native Texan was originally selected by the Rockies in the 21st round of the 2005 amateur draft as a freshman out of McLennan Community College in Waco, but he did not sign with the club. The following year, Martin suffered a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder and underwent surgery to repair the tear in 2007.
After working a number of odd jobs, Martin landed with the Grand Prairie AirHogs of the independent American Association in 2010. He pitched well there and scored a tryout with the Red Sox in March 2011. Martin impressed in Fort Myers and was signed to a minor-league contract. He spent the next three seasons working his way through Boston’s farm system before being traded with Franklin Morales to the Rockies for infielder Jonathan Herrera in December 2013.
Martin made his big-league debut for Colorado the following April and had his contract purchased by the Yankees before the start of the 2015 season. He was released by New York that November and elected to take his talents to Japan by signing with the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters of Nippon Professional Baseball. After two years overseas, Martin returned to the United States by signing a major-league contract with his hometown Rangers in December 2017.
Since then, Martin has forged a respectable 3.44 ERA and 2.99 FIP to go along with 229 punchouts to 24 walks over 229 total relief outings (214 2/3 innings pitched) between the Rangers, Braves, Cubs, and Dodgers. He helped Atlanta win a World Series in 2021 and owns a lifetime 1.88 ERA (2.11 FIP) in the postseason.
Listed at 6-foot-8 and 225 pounds, Martin is a six-pitch pitcher who operates with a mid-90s four-seam fastball, a low-90s cutter, a high-80s splitter, a mid-90s sinker, a mid-80s slider, and a low-80s curveball. This past season, the righty ranked in the 99th percentile in the league in strikeout rate (32.9 percent) and the 100th percentile in walk rate (2.2 percent), per Baseball Savant. He did not miss many bats (41.7 percent hard-hit rate, 8.3 percent barrel rate), but proved to be effective in other areas.
Martin, who does not turn 37 until June, becomes the second free agent addition the Red Sox have have made to their bullpen this winter. Fellow reliever Joely Rodriguez was signed to a one-year, $2 million deal last week.
With the Winter Meetings set to get underway in San Diego next week, chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. may just be getting started as different markets are expected to heat up sooner rather than later.
(Picture of Chris Martin: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)