Cubs News: Nick Martini signing makes for a potentially impactful move

(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /
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The Cubs are hoping to find value in recently-added outfielder Nick Martini.

On Friday, the Chicago Cubs signed 30-year-old outfielder Nick Martini to a minor league deal. Martini has played in 87 career MLB games with a slash of .269/.372/.380 in stints with the Oakland Athletics and San Diego Padres from 2018 to 2019. He did not play in the majors in 2020.

Sure, it is understandable to not be too excited about another cheap minor league deal. The Cubs have not opened up the pocket book in several years on established MLB talent and there is no guarantee Martini will be impactful, but the opportunity for him to be certainly exists. While his big league sample size his small there are some things to like about him.

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Let’s set some expectations. His ceiling with the club is being a nice outfield depth piece. It would not be ideal for him to be the starting left fielder come Opening Day, but productive depth is important and if he provides that, the Cubs would certainly take it. It is unfortunately clear Chicago will not improve much when it comes to star power this offseason, but depth improvement can still pay off over the course of a 162-game slate.

So what’s to like about Nick Martini?

One thing that stands out in his 87 MLB games is his .372 OBP, including a .397 OBP in his first career 55 games with the A’s in 2018. Even in 2019 when he had some struggled with a .226 average and .653 OPS he put up a .330 OBP. Overall walk rate in his 87 career games equates to a very strong 12.2 percent.

In terms of strikeouts he sports a career 21.5 percent K rate which is right around the average mark. Yes, it is a small sample size but it is not like he has struck out at a crazy rate in the majors. He does not have pop, evidenced by just two career home runs and sports a 51.4 percent groundball rate. If he can be successful in the majors, it is nice to have a guy who can get on base and make decent contact (84 percent contact rate).

Take his minor league numbers for what they are worth, but they are overall very good. In 352 career Triple-A games he sports a .305/.401/.435 slash with an .837 OPS. He did not get a chance to play last year in the minors due to the pandemic-shortened season.

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Potential valuable MLB depth piece? Or another AAAA player? Time will tell, but the numbers are enough to believe a there is value there. We’re going to have to live with these small moves so all we can do is hope some pan out nicely. The outlook of the 2021 roster is still very foggy with all the trade rumors this offseason.

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