LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Rangers signed right-handed reliever Chris Martin on Friday to a two-year contract worth $4 million. The move, reported on earlier this week, reinforces the Rangers bullpen and increases the comfort they would have in moving reliever Matt Bush to the rotation.Martin, an Arlington native
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Rangers signed right-handed reliever Chris Martin on Friday to a two-year contract worth $4 million. The move, reported on earlier this week, reinforces the Rangers bullpen and increases the comfort they would have in moving reliever Matt Bush to the rotation.
Martin, an Arlington native who stands 6-foot-8 with a fastball clocked at 95 mph, was dominating over the past two years in Japan with the Nippon Ham Fighters. The 31-year-old appeared in a combined 92 games with a 1.12 ERA and a 0.67 WHIP. He averaged 9.3 strikeouts, 4.7 hits and 1.3 walks per nine innings with 22 saves in 2016-17.
The Rangers came into the Winter Meetings looking for both starting pitching and relievers. Martin adds to a bullpen that already includes Bush, Tony Barnette and Keone Kela from the right side and left-handers Jake Diekman and Alex Claudio.
Right-handers Jose Leclerc, Nick Gardewine and Ricardo Rodriguez will also get Spring Training looks, although they will have to earn their way on the team.
The Rangers have also signed left-hander Mike Minor to a three-year contract with the intention of moving the lefty into the rotation. But he pitched in relief for the Royals last season after missing two years because of shoulder problems and could be used in the bullpen if he is not ready to move into the rotation.
Bush has spent the past two seasons in the Rangers 'pen and that could still be the case in 2018. But the Rangers want him to prepare this offseason as a starter and will take a look at that possibility in Spring Training.
Martin gives them added depth to consider that option, although the Rangers will continue to look for more bullpen options as the offseason progresses.
Martin is originally from Arlington High School and McLennan College in Waco, Texas, where he played before being taken by the Rockies in the 21st round of the 2005 MLB Draft. His pitching career was cut short by a torn labrum in his right shoulder and he spent three years working various blue-collar jobs in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
In 2010, Martin attempted a comeback and pitched for the Grand Prairie AirHogs of the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball. The AirHogs, playing just down the freeway from Arlington, were then managed by former Rangers outfielder Pete Incaviglia.
The Red Sox signed Martin after one year in Grand Prairie and he spent three years in their farm system before being traded to the Rockies. He pitched for Colorado in 2014 and then was traded to the Yankees the following season. The righty pitched in 40 games for the Rockies and the Yankees in 2014-15 with a 6.19 ERA and a 1.65 WHIP before going to Japan.
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.