Nick Martinez opting out could mess up Padres’ pitching staff

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 19: Nick Martinez #21 of the San Diego Padres (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 19: Nick Martinez #21 of the San Diego Padres (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

The San Diego Padres were by no means a perfect roster, but they were able to punch above their weight class so effectively in the postseason because of their ability to get timely pitching against superior foes. Nick Martinez should be heralded for his ability to step back into the majors after four years overseas and dominate.

Martinez signed a four-year, $25 million contract with the Padres after four very successful seasons in Japan. After flaming out early in his career with Texas, Martinez looked like a player that can be a very intriguing long relief ace and spot starter when called upon.

Being a solid No. 5 starter is one thing, but Martinez was able to solidify a bullpen that was in flux and be one of the most influential players on the roster during the NLCS run. A.J. Preller clearly wants him to come back, but there is a hurdle that could complicate things.

Martinez’s contract allows him to opt out after each of his four seasons, giving him the opportunity to potentially cash in and earn a more lucrative deal than the comparative peanuts the Padres are him. Considering the start of the pitching staff, losing him would be a killer.

The San Diego Padres must keep Nick Martinez.

While the Padres have some intriguing young pitchers in the minors, trades for Juan Soto and others sent some of their more pro-ready arms like MacKenzie Gore elsewhere. Martinez was suddenly asked to take on an even more important role, and he flourished because of it.

Martinez not only posted a 3.47 ERA while starting 10 games and saving eight contests, but he surrendered just one run in 11 innings in the postseason. While bigger names like Sean Manaea and Mike Clevinger faltered, Martinez was able to come through time and time again.

Be it as a starter or reliever, the Padres could use Martinez. Fellow bullpen ace Robert Suarez could end up as a free agent in the next few months, while both Manaea and Clevinger are both scheduled to enter the FA miasma. This team is quickly running out of reliable arm options, and Martinez is one of them.

The postseason illustrated that having a switchblade like Martinez is worth more than just a seven-figure salary, and he may realize that. Rather than taking a discount to return to San Diego, Martinez could opt out and force Preller to splurge for their versatile weapon.