Nick Martinez made only nine starts in his 63 appearances for the San Diego Padres in 2023, but according to The Athletics' C. Trent Rosecrans, Reds fans should expect the right-hander to compete for a spot in the rotation next spring.
This shouldn't come as a shock, as the Cincinnati Reds reportedly signed Martinez to a two-year/$26-million deal. That's typically not the type of money you see clubs dole out to relievers unless they're operating as the team's closer.
While Martinez does have experience in that role, Alexis Diaz is the unquestioned closer for the Reds heading into the 2024 season.
Reds Insider: Expect Nick Martinez to enter spring training as starter, not reliever
Nick Martinez was 6-4 with a 3.43 ERA. The 33-year-old was actually very good as a starter last season. The right-hander went 2-1 with a 2.32 ERA and 1.078 WHIP. Martinez posted 37 strikeouts in 42.2 innings of work.
If Martinez is to compete for a spot in the rotation, that likely means at least one of Connor Phillips, Brandon Williamson, or Andrew Abbott will begin the 2024 season in the minor leagues.
While some Reds fans may not like that idea, last season revealed how important pitching depth truly is. Cincinnati employed 14 different starting pitchers in 2023, including players like Brett Kennedy, Lyon Richardson, and Carson Spiers.
The benefit of adding an arm like Martinez is, of course, the ability to move the right-hander to the bullpen if needed. If Cincinnati's front office and coaching staff see progress from its young pitchers, and Martinez struggles in the rotation, the Reds can always move him to the bullpen.
Signing Nick Martinez offers the Cincinnati Reds a lot of upside. Look for the Reds' highest-paid player to open the season in the rotation, and if things go well, he could finish the season there as well.