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Martinez, Griffin become free agents

Hamels, Perez remaining pitchers from Rangers' 2017 rotation
MLB.com @Sullivan_Ranger

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers' pitching purge continued on Friday night when the club announced that right-handers Nick Martinez, A.J. Griffin and Chi Chi Gonzalez have not been tendered contracts for 2018. Gonzalez signed a Minor League deal with an invitation to Spring Training on Monday.

Martinez and Griffin are now free agents. So, too, is infielder Hanser Alberto, who missed all of last season with a right shoulder injury.

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers' pitching purge continued on Friday night when the club announced that right-handers Nick Martinez, A.J. Griffin and Chi Chi Gonzalez have not been tendered contracts for 2018. Gonzalez signed a Minor League deal with an invitation to Spring Training on Monday.

Martinez and Griffin are now free agents. So, too, is infielder Hanser Alberto, who missed all of last season with a right shoulder injury.

"Both Nick and A.J. have helped this team the last few years, and we thank them for their work," general manager Jon Daniels said. "This decision was about a combination of managing the roster, managing the payroll, and keeping our options open. We are not ruling out bringing either player back, but understand they have options as well."

Hot Stove Tracker

The moves leave left-handers Cole Hamels and Martin Perez as the only two pitchers on the roster who started for the Rangers last year. That doesn't include reliever Alex Claudio, who made one emergency start on May 2 against the Astros when Hamels was a last-minute scratch.

The Rangers have signed free-agent starter Doug Fister and he is now No. 3 in the rotation behind Hamels and Perez. Rookie right-hander Ronald Herrera and left-hander Yohander Mendez are the leading internal candidates for the remaining rotation spots, although the Rangers are considering moving reliever Matt Bush into a starter role.

Video: TEX@NYY: Bush K's Sanchez, records the save

But the offseason is just beginning. Japanese right-hander Shohei Ohtani was officially posted by the Nippon-Ham Fighters on Friday and clubs have until Dec. 22 to sign him. The Rangers are among the favorites to sign him and will likely meet with Ohtani and his agents at some point during the process.

Right-hander Miles Mikolas also became a free agent on Friday. He pitched for the Rangers in 2014 before spending the past three seasons in Japan. He was 31-13 with a 2.18 ERA in 62 starts and the Rangers are among the teams highly interested in him.

The Rangers have also remained in contact with the top free agents on the market, most notably Jake Arrieta, Lance Lynn and Alex Cobb. But their ultimate goal is to land Ohtani and fill out the rest of the staff from there.

Video: Daniels discusses the Rangers' pitch to Ohtani

Martinez has been the Rangers' most durable pitcher over the past four years, missing only two weeks in 2014 with minor muscle discomfort in his left side. He has also spent those four years bouncing between the Rangers' rotation, bullpen and Triple-A Round Rock. Since making his Major League debut on April 5, 2014, he has been sent down and recalled from the Minor Leagues 13 different times.

Martinez has made 68 starts for the Rangers and is 15-28 with a 5.02 ERA and a 1.45 WHIP. In 20 relief appearances, he is 2-2 with a 2.55 ERA and a 1.46 WHIP.

Griffin spent two years with the Rangers but had trouble staying healthy, with three stints on the disabled list. He made 38 starts for the Rangers and was 13-10 with a 5.41 ERA and a 1.35 WHIP.

The Rangers used 30 different pitchers in 2017 -- not counting catcher Brett Nicholas -- and only 10 remain with the organization. The Rangers finished the season with a team ERA of 4.66, the fifth-highest in the American League.

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.

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