Just do it. Get them out of your system now. Everything you ever wanted to quip about Coldplay, now is the time.
OK. We good? Baseball time?
The long-awaited more-sure-fire relief addition has arrived for the Cubs, and it’s former Braves reliever Chris Martin signing a one-year deal with the Cubs, per Jon Morosi. It’s for $2.5 million, with some performance bonuses build in. I would’ve expected him to get more, actually.
Martin, 35, is an absolutely enormous dude, towering at 6’8″, and having only finally established himself as a big league contributor after he was already into his 30s:
If you’re wondering about that gap there, Martin was one of the guys who left the States in his late-20s to go earn some money in Japan. While there, he dominated, truly got better, and was kind of a hot relief commodity when he came back to MLB. From there, as you can see, he’s generally been pretty darn good. The ERA from 2018-2021 is 22% better than league average by ERA-, the FIP is 26% better.
Martin is a hard-thrower, typically in the mid-90s, and does a good job staying off the barrel. He walks absolutely no one, but the strikeout rate is hard to figure – it was really meh in 2018 and 2021, and really WOWSA in 2019 and 2020. I’ll have to dig in more on what may have happened. A very quick and dirty look at Statcast suggests he switched his primary fastball in 2021 to his very low-spin four-seamer, which appears to have been a move to pitch toward contact off the barrel. His sinker the year before was more of a whiff pitch, but got hit hard at times.
(Oh, and the now obligatory quick check you have to do on any pitcher: no, his performance results didn’t change meaningfully in one direction or the other after mid-June last year …. )
Apparently the Cubs just want to recreate the Atlanta Braves championship-winning bullpen – or at least nab some of the lesser-known contributors – having already signed Jesse Chavez, and now Martin.
This is pretty standard fare for the Cubs of recent years, as far as bullpen moves go: target a guy who isn’t getting offers at a level that are commensurate with his talent, sign him on a good bargain, and then let him eat for the first few months of the season. If things are going well for the team, great. If things aren’t, he becomes a pretty attractive in-season trade piece.