ATLANTA, Ga – Tuesday was a busy day for Alex Anthopoulos and the Braves Front Office. Around 2pm, the club introduced its newest reliever as Will Smith met with the media at SunTrust Park. Then, in the evening, the team announced that it had come to terms to re-sign RHP Chris Martin to a two-year, $14 million dollar deal. Martin, acquired at the 2019 Trade Deadline from the Rangers, appeared in 20 games from the Atlanta bullpen, posting a 4.08 ERA with 22 strikeouts and just one walk. Overall, between Texas and Atlanta, Martin put up a combined 3.40 ERA with 65 strikeouts and just six walks over 55.2 innings pitched. While it was a strong year overall for Martin, it ended on a sour note as he left Game One of the NLDS with an oblique injury before facing a batter. The Braves bullpen was put in a tough situation and went on to give up six runs over the final two innings. Martin’s absence in the Postseason was a big blow and he was certainly sorely missed in higher leverage spots as the Cardinals took the series in five games.
The Braves have now invested $34 million dollars into their bullpen for the upcoming season between Mark Melancon ($14 million), Will Smith ($13 million) and Chris Martin ($7 million). As we discussed last week with the Smith signing, with Shane Greene projected to approach $7 million in arbitration, it remains to be seen if his future is here with the Braves, or elsewhere. One thing is for certain though, the fan base should feel awfully confident if this team has a lead after the sixth. Think about how far this relief corps has come in the last calendar year. At this time last year, we were looking at a bullpen that would include the likes of Arodys Vizcaino, Jesse Biddle, Shane Carle, Jonny Venters and Dan Winkler. In the span of 365 days, Anthopoulos has turned the pen from an area of significant weakness into arguably its biggest strength.
Even with these additions, there’s still plenty on Anthopoulos’ wish list. Don’t rule out another reliever, along with a veteran starter, third baseman, every day catcher and of course, third baseman. But as I alluded to last week with the signing of Smith, look for Alex to continue to try and get as much done before other teams can get involved in bidding wars.
Kevin McAlpin has covered the Braves since 2012 for @680TheFan and the @BravesRadioNet.