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Padres reportedly sign RHP Nick Martinez

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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Cleveland Indians send RHP Triston McKenzie back to minors after wild outing

The Indians hope another trip to the minors helps Triston McKenzie eventually stick in the majors.

Cleveland optioned McKenzie to Triple-A Columbus for the fourth time this season on Sunday after the right-hander failed to get out of the first inning against Seattle a day earlier.

President of baseball operations Chris Antonetti and manager Terry Francona met with McKenzie on Sunday morning.

“Like any player, we want to make sure we understand what’s going through their mind and what’s getting in their way of having the results they want,” Antonetti stated.

McKenzie had been called up from Columbus before the match. He issued four walks, including one with the bases loaded, and retired two of the six batters he faced.

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McKenzie, who started the season in the rotation, leads the AL with 39 walks.

He struck out 10 in 5⅓ innings versus the Chicago White Sox, including a club record eight in a row, on May 31 but followed that with Saturday’s short outing.

“We’ve seen he’s capable of pitching really successfully up here, so we know it’s possible,” Antonetti said.

McKenzie, 23, is 1-3 with a 6.38 ERA in 11 games and has struck out 59 in 42⅓ innings. He was a first-round selection in the 2015 draft and pitched in eight games for the Indians last season.

Cleveland used seven relievers Saturday and rallied for a 5-4 win in 10 innings.

The Indians’ rotation has struggled behind Shane Bieber and Aaron Civale. Zach Plesac broke his right thumb when he angrily pulled off his shirt after a poor outing last month. He started playing catch last week, but there’s no timetable for his return.

McKenzie, Logan Allen, J.C. Mejia, Sam Hentges, Cal Quantrill and Eli Morgan have been used as starters, but no one has pitched well enough to secure a rotation spot. Mejia and Quantrill will start the first two games in Cleveland’s upcoming series versus Baltimore. The starter for Thursday is undetermined.

“I don’t think we have any other choice but to look at it creatively,” Antonetti said. “We know we’re going to have to rely on a number of different players. It’s not gonna be able to just, ‘Hey, we’re gonna run the same five guys out there every five days.'”

Infielder Ernie Clement was called up from Columbus.

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Suddenly short-handed, New York Yankees placing RHP Corey Kluber, 1B Luke Voit on injured list

Yankees right-hander Corey Kluber is expected to miss at least two months with a right shoulder injury, and first baseman Luke Voit is also headed to the injured list with a right oblique strain.

New York manager Aaron Boone revealed the diagnoses Wednesday shortly after the Yankees’ scheduled game versus the Toronto Blue Jays was postponed because of a poor weather forecast. The game will be made up as part of a doubleheader Thursday.

Kluber was pulled after three innings Tuesday versus Toronto in his first outing following a no-hitter last week. An MRI on his ailing shoulder Wednesday revealed a subscapularis strain, which is expected to keep Kluber from throwing for at least four weeks, followed by at least four weeks of rehabilitation.

The two-time American League Cy Young Award winner is being sent for a second MRI with dyeing, a more invasive exam to ensure there’s no other damage.

Kluber was coming off a 101-pitch effort against the Texas Rangers for the 35-year-old’s first no-hitter. It was a milestone high for a former ace recently beset by injury — his 2019 season with Cleveland ended that May 1 when he was hit on the forearm by a comebacker, and his debut for Texas in 2020 lasted just one inning before he tore a muscle in his right shoulder on July 26

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Boone stated he doesn’t believe the no-hitter caused Kluber’s injury. Kluber called the whole situation “frustrating” Tuesday, saying he felt some tightness in the shoulder warming up, but it’s unclear what caused the injury.

“He wasn’t as sharp,” Boone said Tuesday in his postgame availability. “And there was a handful of pitches where there were some misfires up.”

Kluber dropped to 4-3 with a 3.04 ERA.

Deivi Garcia and Michael King are the chief candidates to fill his rotation spot.

Garcia, currently with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, was already scheduled to rejoin the big league team and make a spot start this weekend versus Detroit as New York plans for 13 games in 13 days.

“We’ll have to pick up the slack for him, obviously,” Boone said.

New York entered Wednesday 28-20, one game behind the AL East-leading Tampa Bay Rays and a half-game behind the Boston Red Sox.

Voit’s diagnosis was even more of a shocker. Boone said the slugger started to feel discomfort in his side Saturday that worsened Tuesday, prompting an MRI that revealed a Grade 2 strain.

Voit, who led the majors with 22 home runs last campaign, is hitting .182 with one homer in 12 games after missing the start of the season following surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee during spring training.

DJ LeMahieu and Mike Ford are expected to fill in for Voit at first base. Miguel Andujar could also see time there.

New York is hoping to get slugger Giancarlo Stanton back from the injured list this week. Stanton, out with a quadriceps injury, ran on the field Tuesday and Wednesday, and Boone said he’s eyeing a Friday return, although he didn’t rule out Stanton as an option for Thursday.

The Yankees are also without outfielder Aaron Hicks, who was scheduled to have left wrist surgery Wednesday that could keep him out the rest of the season. LeMahieu returned to the team Wednesday after going on the paternity list Tuesday for the birth of his first child. He was slated to play first base.

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