Chicago Cubs Sign Very Tall, Hard-Throwing Reliever Chris Martin

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Chicago Cubs Sign Very Tall, Hard-Throwing Reliever Chris Martin

Chicago Cubs

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:

(via FanGraphs)

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.

More soon.


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Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.