Longtime Cardinals right-hander Carlos Martinez has agreed to a deal with the Giants, as Martinez himself announced this evening on Instagram. Martinez, an Octagon client, is signing a minor league deal that’d guarantee him $2.5MM upon making the roster, tweets Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. That salary could grow to $4MM based on incentives.
Martinez, 30, is a two-time All-Star who not long ago looked like one of the game’s best up-and-coming young arms. From 2015-19, Martinez’s age-23 through age-27 seasons, he pitched to a combined 3.22 ERA through 747 innings while spending time both as the Cardinals’ top starter and primary closer. Injuries, however, have sent the righty’s career off the rails in recent seasons.
A shoulder issue in Spring Training 2019 delayed Martinez’s start to the season and ultimately helped push him to the bullpen that season (where he fared quite well). Martinez missed nearly seven weeks in 2020 following a lengthy bout with Covid-19, and he strained an oblique muscle not long after returning, all of which combined to limit him to just 20 innings (and a grisly 9.90 ERA). Martinez had a a handful of dominant starts early in the 2021 season, but he sustained a torn ligament in his right thumb that eventually required surgery and ended his season in early July.
All told, since that outstanding run from 2015-19, Martinez has managed only 102 1/3 innings at the MLB level and been clobbered for a 6.95 ERA in that time. The right-hander’s fastball, which averaged 97.2 mph back in his All-Star 2016 season, has sat at a diminished 93.8 mph average during those two most recent seasons. His strikeout, walk and home-run rates have all gone in the wrong direction as well.
For all his recent injury troubles, Martinez won’t turn 31 until late in the 2022 season and isn’t that far removed from being a high-quality member of the St. Louis staff. The Giants don’t need him to round out the rotation — not after signing Carlos Rodon, Anthony DeSclafani, Alex Wood and Alex Cobb to Major League deals already — or to handle high-leverage situations in the bullpen. Rather, Martinez can head to camp and vie for an Opening Day roster spot as a long man or a middle-relief piece. If he ends up in Triple-A Sacramento to begin the season, he could serve as an intriguing piece of rotation depth for a Giants staff that isn’t short on hurlers with notable injury histories (Rodon, Cobb and Wood, in particular).