It’s been a long, unusual journey for Chris Martin, one that has led him back to Arlington.
The Rangers need some arms in the bullpen and Martin was apparently available. So both sides have reportedly come to a two-year, $4 million contract agreement. According to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, the deal includes $550, 000 in incentives each year based on games finished. The Rangers have not yet announced the agreement.
But it’s the journey that makes this move interesting.
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The 31-year old righty was an All-State player at Arlington High in 2004 and drafted in the 18th round by the Detroit Tigers. However, Martin did not sign, choosing to go to college instead. He enrolled at McLennan Community College in Waco and received some interest from Division I schools Oklahoma and Texas after his freshman year with the Highlanders.
The Colorado Rockies selected him in the 21st round of the 2005 MLB Draft, but Martin chose to return to McLennan for his sophomore year. However, the dreaded injury bug struck, with Martin suffering a shoulder injury that would require surgery. The Rockies decided not to offer him a contract. Sometimes, that’s just the way baseball go.
After graduating from McLennan, Martin went the independent league route, signing with the Fort Worth Cats in 2007. However, he never pitched a game for the Cats due to shoulder discomfort. The medical recommendation was to undergo surgery. Martin instead chose to quite the game of baseball.
He then went to work loading trucks for UPS at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, moving refrigerators for Lowe’s and stocking washing machines and clothes dryers at an appliance warehouse in Arlington.
Then Martin began playing catch with a coworker, Jordan Bostick, at the warehouse. Martin noticed his shoulder felt stronger and decided to give the game another shot, with the encouragement of Bostick. After being out of the game for three years, Martin tried out and eventually signed with the Grand Prairie AirHogs, now known as the Texas AirHogs. He finished the 2010 season at 4-0 with a 1.96 ERA.
AirHogs manager and former Rangers slugger Pete Incaviglia soon began contacting MLB teams about Martin. The Boston Red Sox offered him a tryout in spring training before the 2011 season and signed him to a minor league contract. Martin was 6-2 with a 2.55 ERA in 23 games in the minors that season.
After the 2013 season, Martin was part of a trade package sent to the Rockies, who insisted that he was to be included in the deal. Eight years after being drafted by the Rockies, the two sides are reunited.
He made his major league debut in 2014, pitching a scoreless inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers. He threw a total of 15 2/3 innings for the Rockies to the tune of a 6.89 ERA with 14 strikeouts before being sent to the minors.
The Rockies then traded Martin to the New York Yankees before the 2015 season, where he made the Opening Day roster. He spent the season back and forth between the parent team and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He would finish the season at 0-2 with a 5.66 ERA in 24 games on the major league level.
The Yankees sold the contractual rights to Martin to the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters in Japan for $750, 000 after the 2015 season. If that team sounds familiar, it’s the same one that Shohei Ohtani suited up for. The Rangers recently missed out on the Ohtani sweepstakes, with the Los Angeles Angels instead landing the “Babe Ruth of Japan.”
During his two years over in Japan, Martin had 22 saves with a 1.12 ERA and a 0.67 WHIP in over 88 innings. He averaged 9.3 strikeouts per nine innings in 2016-17.
The 6-foot-8, 215-pound Martin throws a fastball that averages 95 miles per hour. He mixes in a slider and cut fastball. During his time in Japan, Martin struck out 91 while only walking 13.
Now, he returns home.
Once it’s official, Martin gives the Rangers another right-handed setup reliever to go along with Matt Bush, Tony Barnette and Keone Kela. Keep in mind, the Rangers are also considering the possibility of moving Bush into the starting rotation.
The Rangers are in need for bullpen help. A local product might be able to provide some help with that.