The Chicago Cubs added to their bullpen depth after signing veteran right-handed reliever Chris Martin on Tuesday to a one-year contract. The deal has a guaranteed $2.5 million with an additional $500,000 in performance bonuses and a further $250,000 roster bonus.
Martin is the definition of a journeyman reliever. He came up in 2014 with the Colorado Rockies as a 21st round pick in 2005. The right-hander’s extensive league career started poorly, as he posted a 6.89 ERA in 16 games in his rookie season with Colorado. However, there was a slight improvement for Martin in his second year, where he spent the season on the East Coast with the New York Yankees.
Martin spent his first three years in Major League Baseball with three different teams. He struggled and carried a 5.31 ERA over 78 innings between the three places. Martin worked to build himself up as a strikeout reliever consistently; however, he did do a great job limiting the number of walks.
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Martin seemed destined to return to mediocrity. However, he improved after signing a deal with the Texas Rangers in the 2017 offseason. That same year, Martin was shipped to the Atlanta Braves. Here, he took off in a big way and showed off his talent.
In 2020, Martin posted a 1.00 ERA over 18 innings. Last season, he kept his ERA sub-4.00 and finished the yea, which spanned 46 appearances, with a respectable 3.95 ERA. Unfortunately, he did struggle with injuries throughout the year, which left him off the NLDS postseason roster for the Atlanta Braves early in their World Series run.
He pitched in the NLCS and pitched relatively average however he posted a clean slate in his appearances in the World Series and was a crucial part of the championship-winning season last year. The Cubs had their merry-go-round of relievers last season, some of who found success.
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Martin will be 36 in June, so there is some injury risk; however, the risk is low, as a whole, with a contract that is short-term and team-friendly. He could pay off for the Cubs in a big way if he can regain any level of his 2020 form or even form from last year. Chicago seems to be a great fit, and hopefully, Martin will be able to surprise this season in a significant way.