The Padres reportedly signed RHP Nick Martinez to a four-year contract worth $20 million.
However, the deal did not get done before the current MLB lockout.
Once the deal is completed and official, Martinez will have opt-outs after each of the first two seasons, but the Padres will hope he becomes a critical part of the Padres rotation. He’ll be a free agent until the lockout ends.
Martinez, who spent four campaigns with the Texas Rangers from 2014-2017, played the past four years in Japan.
The veteran pitcher owns a 3.44 ERA over his career in the NPB, but posted a stellar 1.62 ERA for the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks in 2021. These numbers prompted the Padres to make a move. Martinez also pitched in the Tokyo Olympics for Team USA, as they secured a silver medal.
Martinez actually played second base for most of his collegiate career at Fordham. He pitched in 15 matches, and the Rangers chose to develop him as a pitcher. The native of Miami was drafted in the 18th round of the 2011 Major League draft but worked his way up the ranks quickly.
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He made his professional debut in the Arizona Complex League and pushed his way up to Double-A in the 2013 season. After a strong spring training, he was named as the fifth starter for the Texas Rangers for the 2014 season. He made 29 appearances for the Rangers, counting 24 starts.
Martinez pitched 140.1 innings, posted a 4.55 ERA and a 1.461 WHIP. His season highlight came on September 23, when he threw 6.2 scoreless innings and permitted just five hits versus the Astros.
Martinez also pitched well in 2015, posting a career-best 3.96 ERA in 125 innings and 21 starts. That year, he did lead the major leagues in hit batters.
Unfortunately, he struggled in 2016, splitting time between the Rangers and Triple-A Round Rock. Ultimately, he made 12 appearances and just five starts for the Rangers. The pitcher didn’t perform very well in his limited time, posting a 5.59 ERA.
He did get extended opportunities in 2016.
The right-handed pitcher made 23 appearances and 18 starts in the 2017 season, as he pitched 111.1 innings, but struggled again, putting up a 5.56 ERA.
Nick Martinez hit free agency after the season, and after struggling in his previous two seasons, there wasn’t much interest from teams in the States.
The veteran pitcher signed a one-year deal with the Nippon Ham-Fighters. He put together a strong season recording a 3.51 ERA, which was enough to get him another one-year contract for the 2019 season.
That year, Martinez put up a 3.51 ERA for the second consecutive season, pitching in 161.2 innings and striking out 93 batters in the process.
For the 2020 season, Nick Martinez re-signed with the Ham-Fighters. But in 17 appearances, the pitcher struggled. Martinez was only able to produce a 4.62 ERA and became a free agent after the season ended.
The Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks came calling, and he has been stellar. His 1.62 ERA came in 149.2 innings, and his career-best professional season earns him a contract with the Padres.
The veteran right-handed pitcher will compete with players such as Chris Paddack and MacKenzie Gore to make the back end of the rotation. If he doesn’t make the rotation, he’ll factor into the bullpen to some degree.
His time in Japan helped him develop, and he’ll look to be a major player in the Padres pitching staff in 2022 and beyond.
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