The Braves aren’t making the same mistake as last year and entering 2020 with a weak bullpen. After the team went out and traded for Chris Martin, Mark Melancon, and Shane Greene last July, they have now signed closer Will Smith and re-signed Martin to open free agency.
The deal is for two years and worth $14 million in total – the Braves announced today.
Martin was an excellent asset for the Braves down the stretch, and frankly, that was despite having poor luck. He posted a 4.08 ERA but with an unreal 1.63 FIP. The tall righty throws downhill and had complete control of his stuff in a career-best 2019, posting a 0.8 BB/9 and 10.5 K/9 – unreal peripheral stats. The Braves will hope he can build on this campaign, and his absence was certainly felt in the postseason.
Martin had a different track to the bigs than most. He was a journeyman reliever who did not quite figure it out until he reinvented himself in Japan. Now he will cash in on his second opportunity in the majors, becoming a big-time asset for the Braves.
After completely neglecting the bullpen in its entirety last offseason, the Braves seem to have learned from their mistakes. They are going all-in on this bullpen and spending the money needed to build a solid unit. This should square them away for the time being, as for now, Atlanta’s ‘pen projects to feature Martin, Greene, Melancon, and Smith late in games paired with Darren O’Day, Luke Jackson, Jacob Webb, and potentially even Sean Newcomb.
This deal also makes dealing Kolby Allard less of a tough pill to swallow. Allard has shown promise in the big leagues with the Rangers, but getting two and a half years of Martin is well worth it given the Braves’ situation.