Red Sox agree to two-year, $17.5 million deal with reliever Chris Martin, per report

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)

Red Sox acquire Hoy Park from Pirates in exchange for pitching prospect Inmer Lobo

The Red Sox have acquired infielder/outfielder Hoy Park from the Pirates in exchange for pitching prospect Inmer Lobo, the club announced on Wednesday.

Park, 26, was just designated for assignment by Pittsburgh on Tuesday. He has been added to Boston’s 40-man roster, which is now at full capacity after left-handed reliever Joely Rodriguez was signed to a one-year deal earlier Wednesday morning.

A native of S0uth Korea, Park was originally signed by the Yankees as an international free agent in July 2014. He was regarded by Baseball America as the No. 25 prospect in New York’s farm system in 2016 and made his major-league debut last July.

After just one game in pinstripes, though, Park and fellow infielder Diego Castillo were traded to the Pirates for All-Star reliever Clay Holmes last July. Park appeared in 44 games for Pittsburgh down the stretch last season and batted .197/.299/.339 with five doubles, two triples, three home runs, 14 RBIs, 16 runs scored, one stolen base, 18 walks, and 38 strikeouts across 149 trips to the plate.

Park made the Pirates’ Opening Day roster out of spring training this year but was sent down to Triple-A Indianapolis before the end of April. In four separate stints with the big-league club, the left-handed hitter slashed .216/.276/.373 with two doubles, two homers, six runs driven in, seven runs scored, one stolen base, four walks, and 15 strikeouts over 23 games and 60 plate appearances.

On the other side of the ball, Park has major-league experience at six different positions. This past season in Pittsburgh, the versatile 6-foot-1, 200-pounder logged 61 innings at second base, 39 innings at third base, 22 innings at shortstop, and 12 innings in right field. He also saw playing time in left field and in center field last year.

Park, who turns 27 in April, has two minor-league options remaining, meaning he could provide the Red Sox with both infield and outfield depth at Triple-A Worcester next season. For his minor-league career, Park is a lifetime .255/.384/.417 hitter in 145 games at the Triple-A level.

Lobo, 18, was signed by the Red Sox for $10,000 out of Venezuela back in January. The left-hander spent the entirety of his first pro season in the Dominican Summer League and posted a 0.82 ERA with 28 strikeouts to two walks over five starts spanning 22 innings of work.

(Picture of Hoy Park: Joe Sargent/Getty Images)

Red Sox sign lefty reliever Joely Rodriguez to one-year deal with club option for 2024

The Red Sox have signed left-handed reliever Joely Rodriguez to a one-year contract for the 2023 season, the club announced on Wednesday. The deal comes with a club option for 2024 as well.

Rodriguez, who turned 31 earlier this month, will make at least $2 million in guaranteed money with the Red Sox. His contract includes a base salary of $1.5 million in 2023 and up to $2 million in active roster bonuses, according to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo. The Red Sox then hold a $4.25 million option over Rodriguez for 2024. If they decline that, Rodriguez will receive $500,000 in the form of a buyout. When taking other performance bonuses into account, Rodriguez’s deal can max out at $8.25 million over the next two seasons.

After finishing with the fifth-worst bullpen ERA (4.59) this year, the Red Sox have elected to make Rodriguez their first free agent addition of the offseason. The Dominican-born southpaw spent the entirety of the 2022 campaign with the Mets and posted a 4.47 ERA and 3.23 FIP to go along with 57 strikeouts to 26 walks over 55 relief appearances spanning 50 1/3 innings of work.

Rodriguez was initially one of 12 pitchers to make the Mets’ Wild Card series roster last month, but he was removed from it following Game 1 due to an unspecified shoulder issue that ultimately required minor surgery after the season, per The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier.

Listed at 6-foot-1, and 200 pounds, Rodriguez operates with a four-pitch mix that consists of a sinker and changeup — his two most frequently-used offerings — as well as a four-seam fastball and slider. This past season, Rodriguez limited opposing hitters to an average exit velocity of 85.3 mph, a hard-hit rate of 31.8 percent, and a barrel rate of 3.8 percent, per Baseball Savant. His chase rate of 34.7 percent also ranked in the 94th percentile of the league.

The Red Sox, per Cotillo, are intrigued by Rodriguez’s pitch mix and his ability to induce ground balls, soft contact, and whiffs. They are optimistic that his performance will be more in line with his Statcast numbers as opposed to his 4.56 career ERA moving forward. They also believe in his ability to get both right-handed and left-handed hitters out, as he held righties to a .625 OPS against and lefties to a .645 OPS in 2022.

A native of Santo Domingo, Rodriguez first signed with the Pirates as an international free agent in March 2009. He was traded to the Phillies in 2014 and made his major-league debut two years later. In June 2017, Rodriguez was traded to the Rangers and became a free agent at the end of the season. He spent part of the 2018 campaign in the Orioles system before signing with the Chunichi Dragons of Nippon Professional Baseball.

After spending the remainder of 2018 and the entirety of 2019 in Japan, Rodriguez returned to the major-leagues in 2020 with the Rangers. Texas traded him and Joey Gallo to the Yankees at the 2021 trade deadline. New York then flipped him to the Mets for fellow reliever Miguel Castro back in April.

All told, Rodriguez owns a 4.56 ERA and 3.65 FIP across 157 career appearances (146 innings) in five seasons at the big-league level. The lefty will now join a Red Sox bullpen that at the moment includes the likes of Matt Barnes, John Schreiber, Tanner Houck, Ryan Brasier, Darwinzon Hernandez, Josh Taylor, and Zack Kelly, among others.

While that group could still undergo a dramatic change between now and Opening Day, Rodriguez is line to provide Boston with a left-handed relief option in 2023. With the addition of Rodriguez, the Red Sox currently have 39 platers on their 40-man roster.

(Picture of Joely Rodriguez: Mike Stobe/Getty Images)