The Red Sox took a step towards upgrading their bullpen with a move that represents a full-circle career moment for a former prospect.
A major league source confirmed that the Red Sox have reached an agreement to add 6-foot-8-inch righthander Chris Martin to their bullpen. The agreement is not yet final, pending a physical. According to ESPN, which first reported the deal, it is for two years and $17.5 million.
Martin, 36, is coming off a remarkable finish. After he was dealt from the Cubs to the Dodgers at this year’s deadline, he forged a 1.46 ERA with a 34-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 24⅔ innings.
The free-agent windfall represents a remarkable return to the organization he started his affiliated baseball career with.
Martin joined the Red Sox out of independent ball in 2011, and quickly emerged as a surprising prospect with a mid-90s sinker. He raced through three levels in 2011, reaching Triple A in 2013 before being dealt to the Rockies (along with Franklin Morales) for utility infielder Jonathan Herrera. He reached the big leagues in 2014 and has spent parts of seven years in the majors (plus one in Japan), winning a World Series with Atlanta in 2021.
Now, he has been brought to the Red Sox to help reinforce what was one of the least effective bullpens in baseball in 2022. Among active big leaguers with at least 200 career innings, his 3.3 percent career walk rate is the lowest, spelling relief for a Sox bullpen that had a 9.9 percent walk rate (sixth highest in MLB) in 2022.
The addition of Martin to the bullpen serves as a stepping stone. Consider: Boston’s biggest bullpen signing last year was lefthander Jake Diekman (two years, $8 million). But at the trade deadline, the Sox sent Diekman to the White Sox.
The Red Sox began the season with 10 relievers on the roster. Six of those 10 remained with the organization at the end of the year and just three were on the active roster as the club suffered a number of injuries to key relievers.
Martin, perhaps, serves as a step in the right direction. With Matt Barnes, Tanner Houck, Joely Rodriguez, and John Schreiber a part of the mix, too, the Martin signing gives the Sox a solid foundation to build on, one the Sox hope can solve their bullpen woes.
Julian McWilliams of the Globe staff contributed to this report.