DECEMBER 20: The Dinos officially announced Martini’s deal (h/t to Jeeho Yoo of Yonhap News). He’ll receive $550K in guaranteed money, with an additional $250K available in incentives.
DECEMBER 16: Outfielder Nick Martini is in discussions with the NC Dinos of the Korea Baseball Organization, according to a report from Naver Sports (h/t to Sung Min Kim). If a deal is finalized, the 31-year-old will make the jump to South Korea after spending the past eleven years in affiliated ball.
Martini has suited up in the majors in three of the last four seasons. The left-handed hitter broke in with an impressive .296/.397/.414 line across 179 plate appearances with the A’s in 2018. Martini didn’t get much of an opportunity to follow up on that strong rookie showing, though, struggling to a .226/.330/.323 mark in 109 trips to the dish between Oakland and the Padres the following season. He didn’t appear in the big leagues in 2020, although the Illinois native returned to play in 25 games with his hometown Cubs this past season. Chicago outrighted Martini off their 40-man roster at the end of the year, and he elected minor league free agency shortly thereafter.
While Martini doesn’t have a particularly lengthy track record in the majors, he owns a strong minor league resume. Over parts of six Triple-A seasons, he’s a .298/.399/.437 hitter. Martini has walked in a robust 13.4% of his plate appearances at the minors’ highest level while only punching out 17.8% of the time. He’s mostly limited to the corner outfield and doesn’t bring a ton of power to the table, but that combination of a keen eye and strong bat-to-ball skills should allow Martini to continue to post strong on-base marks if he makes the jump to the KBO.
Were Martini’s agreement to be finalized, that’d officially close the book on the possibility of Aaron Altherr returning to the Dinos. KBO teams are only permitted to carry three foreign players on their rosters, and the Dinos already employ pitchers Drew Rucinski and Wes Parsons. Altherr has spent the past two seasons with the Dinos, hitting .276/.354/.529 as the club’s regular center fielder. Naver reports that the team had interest in keeping the 30-year-old (31 next month) in the fold, but Altherr has explored the possibility of returning to MLB or making the jump to Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball this offseason.