The Texas Rangers have signed free agent right-handed pitcher Chris Martin to a two-year contract.
"It's a dream come true for me. I've grown up my whole life watching the Rangers," Martin said in the locker room after the team's announcement Friday.
Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed by the team, though multiple reports indicate it's worth about $4 million.
The 31-year-old, a 6 foot 8 inch tall RHP who graduated from Arlington High School in 2004, returns to the United States after pitching the past two seasons for the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB).
A shoulder injury nearly ended his career just after high school, but he fought his way back, stocking shelves at Texas Alliance and playing catch with co-workers.
"I'm in a shirt, jeans and boots, trying to catch this guy throwing 80 miles an hour fast balls in a warehouse. When it got to that point almost broke my thumb and the glove, we were like, 'OK, we think you're ready,'" said Jordan Bostick, Martin's longtime friend who hired him at Texas Alliance.
Martin was picked up by the Grand Prairie AirHogs, then the Boston Red Sox. He played a season for the Colorado Rockies and the New York Yankees before going to Japan.
"It's been a whirlwind with my shoulder injury and very humbling working in a warehouse. The experience has driven me throughout my career," Martin recalled.
But his Arlington High School Coach, David Nix, described him as a fierce competitor on the mound and said he wasn't surprised by Martin's perseverance.
"He's a hard worker and loves the game, so we're excited to see him come back," Nix said.
Martin produced the lowest ERA (1.12) and opponents batting average (.154), fewest baserunners per nine innings (6.11), and second-lowest strikeout-to-walk ratio (7.00) among all NPB relievers with at least 90 appearances in 2016-17. He went 0-2 with one save and a 1.19 ERA (11 ER/88.1 IP) spanning 40 appearances for the Fighters in 2017. Martin’s 21 saves in 2016 ranked tied for 5th in the Pacific League.
While with the Rockies, Martin faced the Rangers twice in 2014, including a lone appearance at Globe Life Park on May 7, 2014.
With the signing of Martin, the Rangers now have 39 players on the club’s major league roster.