Reds introduce new arms Pagán, Martinez at Redsfest

December 2nd, 2023

CINCINNATI -- It worked well for the Reds that at the opening of Redsfest on Friday, they could officially show off their latest free-agent acquisitions and signal they were far from finished trying to improve.

The two-year contracts for pitchers and were completed and formally announced after both passed their physicals. President of baseball operations Nick Krall is still exploring adding more starting pitching.

"I think we’re just looking across the board at how we can make our club better, whatever way that is," Krall said. "I feel we have some more quality innings in both players. I think we’re just trying to figure out if we can continue to upgrade our club."

Both Pagán and Martinez were identified early this offseason as targets to sign by Cincinnati's baseball operations department.

"There was a grouping of people, and we just went down the road to see who had interest in coming here and who we had interest in and tried to match up," Krall said.

The 33-year-old Martinez, who agreed to terms on Thursday, will earn $14 million next season and $12 million in 2025 and has the ability to opt out after the first year.

Pagan, 32, agreed on Wednesday to a two-year, $16 million contract. He will earn $8 million in 2024 and $8 million in ‘25 but also has an opt-out after the first season.

Martinez noted the Reds were the first team to reach out to his agent, Scott Boras.

“How fast it happened showed how bad they really wanted me," Martinez said. "It’s nice to be wanted. To happen this fast and right before Redsfest, killed two birds with one stone. While I’m up here, let’s have a good time and enjoy the fans.”

Martinez will compete for a rotation spot but can also serve as a reliever, a swing role that he had with San Diego the last two seasons. In 2023, the right-hander was 6-4 with a 3.43 ERA over team-high 63 appearances while pitching 110 1/3 innings. In nine starts, he posted a 2.32 ERA.

“It shows a big commitment. They’ve been watching me closely," Martinez said of getting to start. "The only times I’ve thrown against Cincy was out of the bullpen. They did their research and saw what I can do as a starter. I think it shows volumes of how much they believe in me.”

However, Martinez showed a willingness to accept whatever role that's needed. 

“My talents are best served as a starter," he said. "I think the way they structured the contract shows that they believe that also. Trying to make a push into the playoffs, I’m up for whatever [role]. I want to win.”

Martinez induced grounders 54 percent of the time last season, and often avoided hard contact. Cincinnati believed those attributes made him a good fit.

"We felt really good about him and what he could bring to the table in our ballpark and for us," Krall said.

In 66 appearances last season for the Twins, Pagán had a 2.99 ERA and a 0.95 WHIP with 65 strikeouts over 69 1/3 innings. It was a return to form after three straight years with an ERA over 4.40, when he was often utilized as a closer or setup man.

Last season, Pagán worked in lower-leverage situations and had more success.

“It’s crazy. The last couple of years, if you take our three weeks’ worth of baseball, I’ve been pretty consistent. Unfortunately, you can’t take those weeks out," Pagán said. “Out of the bullpen, a bad week here or there can really sway your season numbers. The overall body of work, I think, is consistent. To put it together for a full season was huge to remind people the caliber of pitcher I am.”

Before signing with the Reds, Pagán had conversations with several players, including Twins teammates who previously played for Cincinnati -- Sonny Gray, Kyle Farmer and Donovan Solano.

“Pretty much everybody had nothing but good things to say about Cincinnati," Pagán said. "It’s a spot me and my wife [Jordyn] kind of had our eye on and were hopeful that they would call during free agency. They did, and we’re very thankful.”

More news from Friday:

  • Third baseman suffered a strained hamstring last week while playing in the Dominican Republic. General manager Brad Meador said Marte was examined on Friday and is expected to make a full recovery by Spring Training. However, he will not resume playing winter ball this offseason.
  • Starting pitcher , who was limited to seven starts in 2023 because of a stress reaction in his left fibula, was also examined on Friday. He's on track to be ready for camp in February.
  • Starter , who had surgery to repair a broken right toe in September, has recovered well and is long tossing without issue.