Despite making the first big statement coming out of the MLB lockout in signing Carlos Rodon, the SF Giants decided they aren't content with standing pat on their pitching staff.
Since inking Rodon, the Giants have added former Kansas City Royals right-hander Jakob Junis and, according to reports, longtime St. Louis Cardinals righty and two-time All-Star Carlos Martinez. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported that Martinez was given a minor-league contract carrying a $2.5 million price tag if he makes the Major League roster, with an additional $1.5 million in incentives available
Martinez, a 30-year-old from the Dominican Republic, became a free agent when the Cardinals declined his $17 million club option after the 2021 season. He suffered a torn ligament in his right thumb while batting against the Colorado Rockies on July 4, an injury originally considered a day-to-day bruise that eventually was discovered to be season-ending.
Even before the injury, Martinez was having a rough season. In 16 starts and 82 1/3 innings pitched prior to going on the Injured List, he had a 6.23 ERA and 57 strikeouts - his 6.2 strikeouts per nine innings was a career-worst ratio, as was a 1.58 strikeouts/walk.
Martinez also performed poorly in a short stint in the pandemic-curtailed 2020 season, pitching to a 9.90 ERA in five starts. He gave up six home runs in 20 innings for a 2.7 HR/9 rate, more than double his previous career high.
Martinez was All-Star in 2015 and 2017
Before his 2020-21 struggles, Martinez was a reliable starter and occasional reliever for the Cardinals. In six full seasons from 2014-2019, the 6'0", 200-pound righty made 117 starts and 115 relief appearances with a 3.30 ERA, 829 strikeouts in 836 1/3 innings and less than one home run per nine innings allowed.
In his All-Star 2015 season, Martinez put up a 14-7 record and 3.01 ERA, while the season of his second trip to the Midsummer Classic, 2017, saw a 12-11 mark, 3.64 ERA and league-high 858 batters faced.
Martinez was used primarily as a reliever in his first two seasons in the Majors, making 70 appearances out of the bullpen and just eight starts in 2013-14. He was a starter in all-but two games he pitched from 2015-17, then split time between the roles in 2018. In 2019 Martinez was exclusively a reliever, pitching in 48 games with 24 saves and a 3.17 ERA. In that year of the rabbit ball, he gave up just two home runs in 48 1/3 innings.
The signing of Martinez offers tantalizing possibilities for the Giants. If the innovative pitching development group can help him recover his All-Star ability, he'll threaten for time as the sixth starter or even to step in when injuries or ineffectiveness sideline one of the current top-five in the rotation. If he can't rediscover the stamina to start, he might be dominant in short stints at the back of the bullpen