After not pitching in MLB from 2018-2021, the San Diego Padres decided to take a risk on right-hander Nick Martinez last offseason. General manager AJ Preller gave him a one-year contract with player options for the 2023-2025 seasons. He earned $7 million in 2022.
This week, Martinez declined his $6.5 million player option and hit free agency, but the Padres were inclined to keep him. On Tuesday night, the two sides had reportedly agreed to a new multi-year contract.
On Wednesday morning, the contract details were revealed. Martinez, 32, will earn $26 million over the next three seasons, good for an $8.33 million AAV. He capitalized on the market and won. Meanwhile, the Padres got themselves a versatile pitcher at a great price.
Martinez’s first MLB action since 2017 featured 47 games (10 starts), totaling 106.1 innings. He struck out 95 batters and maintained a 3.47 ERA, 4.43 FIP and 1.29 WHIP.
He really shined in the second half, however, pitching to a 3.13 ERA and 1.11 WHIP in 31.2 innings, which was when he was utilized more heavily as a reliever (he started all 10 of his games before the All-Star break).
The Padres kept Nick Martinez on a three-year contract after he opted out
After retaining Robert Suarez on a five-year, $46 million contract last week, Preller has the Padres’ bullpen set up nicely for the foreseeable future after securing Martinez.
Both right-handers crack the top 10 in MLB reliever AAV. Martinez is No. 10 with his $8.33 million (right between Hector Neris and Matt Barnes) and Suarez, at $9.2 million) is No. 7 in between Joe Kelly and Daniel Bard.
The emergence of these two — Martinez pitched in Japan the last four seasons and Suarez pitched in Mexico and Japan before arriving in the States — has been momentous for a Padres team that was lacking proper bullpen help the last few years.
Martinez is a Swiss Army knife for manager Bob Melvin while Suarez could very well be the closer-in-waiting for the 2024 season when Josh Hader is no longer under contract.
Preller’s heavy lifting in building the Padres core over the last few years has given the team a bit of relief this offseason, during which they can focus on getting better around the edges and retaining other key contributors. The latest deal for Martinez represents that, so maybe the next couple months won’t feature the usual chaos that comes when Preller hits the free agency/trade market.