4. Carlos Martinez, St. Louis Cardinals
Martinez battled injuries last year, most notably lat and shoulder issues, and he was shut down from throwing last week in spring training due to a lack of strength in his pitching shoulder. On the heels of the decision to take the ball out of Martinez’s hands, Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak added fuel to the situation by expressing open frustration.
After a bit of a clunker in his first outing of 2018, Martinez posted a 0.99 ERA over with 42 strikeouts and 16 walks over his next seven starts (45.2 innings). Then he missed a month with the aforementioned lat injury, then was not the same (5.32 ERA over nine starts) before suffering a strained oblique. Then came a more general shoulder injury, and Martinez made his final 15 appearances of the season out of the bullpen, picking up five saves as St. Louis’ closer in September.
Martinez is under contract for at least three more seasons, at $11.7 million per year. Then his deal has club options for 2022 ($17 million) and 2023 ($18 million), with $500,000 buyouts for each of those years.
If Mozeliak is frustrated enough to listen to offers on Martinez, the Padres should be ready with one. More specifically they can buy low on a starter who can be an innings eater, but clearly has some things to work out in the short-term. Come a year from now, or sooner, Martinez could easily be ready to be a top-end of the rotation starter again.