The Atlanta Braves had some issues with their bullpen last season. It seems they’re serious about correcting those this winter. The Braves came into the week having already signed the top reliever available on the free-agent market, in left-hander Will Smith. On Tuesday, the Braves announced a two-year deal with right-handed reliever Chris Martin worth $14 million.
Martin, who the Braves acquired from the Texas Rangers at the deadline for Kolby Allard was ranked No. 27 on our top 50 free-agent list. Here’s what we said at the time:
Since returning from overseas prior to the 2018 season, Martin has established himself as a quality relief arm. The Braves were wise to add him at the deadline, even if he provided a weird line — he had a 4.08 ERA in Atlanta somehow despite allowing 17 hits, one walk, and one home run while fanning 22 in 17 innings. Martin should be someone’s seventh- or eighth-inning reliever come spring thanks to a lively mid-90s fastball and high-grade control.
Over the last two seasons, Martin has appeared in 104 games. He’s compiled a 127 ERA+ and 10.2 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Between Martin, Smith, and Mark Melancon the Braves now figure to have filled their seventh-, eighth-, and ninth-inning roles. Shane Greene and Luke Jackson will also, presumably, play parts in the Braves bullpen come springtime.
The Braves now figure to turn their focus to other holes. Third baseman Josh Donaldson is a free agent, and the Braves could use another catcher. Atlanta has also been tied to Madison Bumgarner, suggesting they could be in the market for another starting pitcher.
Make sure to check out our free-agent tracker for all the latest moves across the league.