While rather unproven, the Cincinnati Reds have a great deal of pitching depth. Though some fans have advocated for Cincinnati to shell out big contracts to free agent starters this offseason, perhaps there's a better option.
Nick Martinez was 6-4 with a 3.43 ERA for the San Diego Padres in 2023. The right-hander turned down his end of mutual option after the Friars waived their ability to bring Martinez back for the next two seasons.
Martinez represents an intruiging opportunity for the Reds, as he can act as both a reliever and a starter. With so much uncertainty in the rotation and bullpen, might Martinez be the perfect fit for this Reds roster?
After declining option, swingman Nick Martinez would be perfect fit for the Reds
After spending time overseas with Nippon Professional Baseball in Japan, Nick Martinez returned states-side in 2022 and pitched for the San Diego Padres. Over the past two seasons, Martinez is 8-10 in 110 appearances, 19 of which have come as a starter.
In nine games as starter in 2023, Martinez was 2-1 with a 2.32 ERA and logged 42.2 innings pitched. That's little less than five innings per start. In his 54 relief outings, Martinez posted a 4.12 ERA.
The 33-year-old Martinez has built his game around weak contact. According to Baseball Savant, Martinez was in the 95th percentile in terms of average exit velocity and the 98th percentile when it came hard-hit-rate.
Nick Martinez also did a very good job of keeping the ball on the ground. A product of Fordham University, Martinez posted a ground ball-rate of 54-percent; something that should be coveted by any pitcher who plays half his games at Great American Ball Park.
The Reds young pitching staff needs playing time
The debate among Cincinnati Reds fans this offseason has centered around the team's starting rotation. While the club's collective ERA among its starters was ranked 28th in all of baseball, there's a lot of promising young arms in Cincinnati's stable.
Hunter Greene, Nick Lodolo, Andrew Abbott, Brandon Williamson, Graham Ashcraft, and Connor Phillips all have a chance to break camp as part of the Reds rotation next season. There's also pitchers like Levi Stoudt, Lyon Richardson, and Carson Spiers looking for their opportunity as well.
While not a bad idea, bringing in a veteran starter or two would certainly take opportutnities away from pitchers like Williamson, Phillips, and Spiers. If more than one experienced starter is added this offseason, perhaps even Abbott is left down on the farm to begin the 2024 campaign.
Adding a pitcher like Nick Martinez, who has experience as both a starter and reliever, could be a tremendous signing by the Cincinnati Reds this offseason. Martinez's flexibility could be invaluable for such a young, developing pitching staff.
According to Spotrac, Martinez could expect to take home close to $9-million per year on the open market. With more payroll flexibility than they've had in years, the Reds could certainly afford to sign a swingman like Martinez.