In case you missed the news, the Cincinnati Reds are bringing in right-handed pitcher Nick Martinez on what’s either going to be a good 1-year deal for the club, or a bad 2-year deal for the club. Martinez has an opt-out after the first season and if he pitches well it would seem certain that he would take it and try to cash in, just as anyone would do. Since returning from Japan two years ago, the righty has spent most of his time in the bullpen with San Diego, but he has made 19 starts in those two seasons and he’s done fairly well. It would appear that the Reds are planning to at least give him a chance as a starter.

That brings us to the question from the headline of this article – what does bringing in Martinez mean for the Reds? The easiest thing to see if that it means someone that was expected to be in the rotation a week ago isn’t going to be. Hunter Greene, Nick Lodolo, Graham Ashcraft, Brandon Williamson, and Andrew Abbott all have big league experience, and all have had stretches where they pitched quite well. I guess it could be possible that the club could go to a 6-man rotation if everyone is healthy and adjust from there if needed, but if they stick with a traditional 5-man rotation then someone from that group is either heading to Triple-A Louisville to be a starter and keep some depth going as a rotation piece, or moving to the bullpen to add some more depth there.

Health, particularly for pitchers, is never a given. Cincinnati, and every other team around the league, is probably going to need 10 guys to make starts for them in 2024. Most teams are going to need more than that. Depth there is outstanding to have. Bringing in Martinez adds to that.

But beyond just potentially pushing someone out of the rotation, this move may also allow the club to have a bit more patience and development time with guys like Connor Phillips, Lyon Richardson, and to a lesser extent Carson Spiers and Chase Petty. The first three of that group were all rushed to the big leagues at one point or another because Cincinnati simply had no other option. They needed someone who could throw 75 pitches in a game and those guys were healthy enough to do it. They combined for 11 starts and two relief appearances (both by Spiers) and allowed 42 earned runs in 50.1 innings.

Phillips and Richardson have experience in the upper minors, but neither exactly had a good run of things in their time in Triple-A. Phillips was dominant at times and also had times where he got crushed. He walked 30 batters in 40.1 innings for the Bats and had a 4.69 ERA in 11 outings. Richardson made six starts in Louisville and walked 15 batters in 14.1 innings and had an ERA of 9.42. Both guys have big league stuff, but it was clear that they weren’t ready and that they still have things to work on in the minor leagues.

Spiers was called up directly from Double-A after moving to the rotation from the bullpen two months earlier. He performed well in that role (2.82 ERA with 67 strikeouts and 22 walks in 51.0 innings in 11 games), but he had no experience in Triple-A and while his stuff is solid, it’s not on par with the other two guys and he was a 25-year-old who began the year in the Double-A bullpen. If he’s going to be a starting pitching option, he probably needs a little more time in Triple-A.

With Chase Petty – he dominated when he was on the mound in 2023. But he also wasn’t on the mound a ton. After missing the first six weeks of the season he didn’t miss another start all year, but he also never threw 70 pitches in a single start and never pitched in the 5th inning of a game. That was by design after an elbow injury in spring training cost him the first month-and-a-half of the season, but you can’t be a starter in the big leagues throwing 3-4 innings each time out. Toss in that Petty has just two starts above A-ball and it’s another situation where the club likely needs for him to be given more time to develop before he’s ready to face big league hitters every 5th day.

In a perfect world the Reds won’t need Nick Martinez to make a single start for them in 2024. That would mean that all of their young starters pitched well, stayed healthy, and if the club eventually needed someone else to step in that the guys in Double-A and Triple-A developed well and performed and were able to step in and not skip a beat.

About The Author

Doug Gray is the owner and operator of this website and has been running it since 2006 in one variation or another. You can follow him on twitter @dougdirt24, or follow the site on Facebook. and Youtube.

Related Posts

37 Responses

  1. Reaganspad

    50 innings, 42 runs. That is the stretch that did us in last year. Good move by Krall to cover this.

    Great analysis Doug

  2. RedsGettingBetter

    So Krall is done for finding the Starting pitching or isn’t he yet?

  3. BK

    Signing Martinez, and perhaps even acquiring another starter is the right move, even if it results in good players starting the year at AAA. Good teams have depth. If everyone performs well and stays healthy, the Reds will have no trouble finding a taker for their excess pitching–granted, this is an unlikely outcome. I would like to see the Reds acquire at least one more pitcher, starter or reliever. I wouldn’t cry if they brought in two more.

    For our young team, knowing they will be competing for jobs in ST will only bring out their best. I’m glad we’ve seen the team transition from building to competing.

  4. Patrick

    Looks like an overpay just like Pagan. We still need starting depth the young guys just are not enough quality starting pitching in today’s game if you want to compete.

    • Optimist

      Welcome to the market – make yourself comfortable – could probably resign Weaver for 3M – Minor may be available for less than 10M.

      • Patrick

        Well the market for Pagan is 1 year 5M. So you could have done 2 for 10.

    • Andrew

      Not sure how Patrick from his couch knows the market for Pagan, but ok

  5. DaveCT

    “In a perfect world the Reds won’t need Nick Martinez to make a single start for them in 2024.”

    This (above) is my best case scenario, which is essentially beginning the season with Martinez in the pen and starting as needed, and the young starters given the ball every five days. And don’t mistake this as filler. This use of Martinez is a weapon.

  6. MBS

    A 6 man rotation isn’t the craziest ideas with our young pitchers. It also makes Lodolo a more realistic option as a starter. If they limit him to 5 innings per start that’s 135 IP. The guys who can handle a larger workload of 6 innings per start will hit 162. The other benefit is that it might help keep our often injured pitchers healthier.

    Last year these guys threw: Abbott 163.1 IP, Williamson 151 IP, Ashcraft 145.2 IP, Greene 112 IP, Martinez 110.1 IP, Lodolo 41.2 IP, Phillips 125.2 IP, Richardson 86 IP.

    • Optimist

      Most overlook the season totals, including MiLB. The good news is Abbott/Williamson/Ashcraft did very well, and should be as good or better, particularly if Martinez and a better pen can slightly reduce their workload. The rest need to return from injury time to prove their workload, but none of the injuries extend to questions about next season.

      Still – some will certainly miss time, which is the real value in adding Martinez.

      • DaveCT

        Exactly. This is a very, very savvy move. We may well have several aces by season’s end, with that added factor of competing amongst themselves to up their games.

  7. Tony Camp

    Martinez was clearly signed to start and I doubt that the Reds break camp with 3 lefties in the rotation. That means either Abbott. Lodolo or Williamson is destined for the bullpen. My money is on Abbott being moved to the pen but none of the 3 would surprise me. As Doug said, health will have something to say about it.

    • LarkinPhillips

      Abbott to the pen? He pitched the best of the three, until he was clearly exhausted. He also, stayed healthy despite being exhausted.

      • Tony Camp

        True, but of the 3 is least suited to start IMO. Also, I expect a lot of development from Lodolo and Williamson.

    • DaveCT

      I don’t believe it’s clear at all. Martinez” value is as a swingman, being highly adaptable to what the team requires of him at any given moment. He’s been successful in multiple roles

      If his presence allows the five young starters to go out there every five days, develop and improve, that makes him a considerable asset.

      It’s possible he begins the year in the rotation, but that’s possibly tied to something like Lodolo not being ready, someone regressing, etc

    • BK

      @Tony, I don’t understand why the Reds would want to avoid opening the season with three left-handed starters–why would that be problematic? I also don’t understand why you believe Abbott is the “least-suited to start.” Do you care to share your thought process behind these statements?

      • Tony Camp

        Certainly if management feels that 3 of the best 5 starters in April are LH then there is nothing wrong with it per se. Quality LH relievers are at a premium and expensive to acquire. Sam Moll did a decent job last year but still this team is short on quality LH relievers. If they don’t aquire one it makes sense to move one of the 3 to the pen. Abbott is small in stature and when his sneaky fastball loses just a little velocity and location he becomes very hittable. I don’t see a lot of development left on him or as a guy who will ever be able to go deep into ball games as consistently as the other 2. Also, I see much greater future development possible for both Lodolo and Williamson. On the other hand, it’s very easy to envision Abbott being put into high leverage situations in relief and being very successful right away which would be very conducive to this club winning a lot of ball games next year.

      • BK

        Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I just think we’re about a year away from any of these pitchers being considered as long-term bullpen options. I say that with the caveat that the Reds are comfortable with Lodolo pitching a full season as a starter.

      • ScoopsReds

        “Sam Moll did a decent job last year.”

        Good grief, I’d hate to know what you consider good is.

        The guy gave up just 3 ER for the Reds over last 2 months since he was acquired. He was nothing short of outstanding.

        Abbott to relief corp will NEVER happen.

      • Tom

        Tony, this sounds like what the Cubs did with Travis Wood. I think it’s jumping the gun but you may end up being correct.

  8. Hoyce

    Piggy back Martinez and Abbott giving the BP a rest day.
    And proposed trade of Williamson and Floyd for Glasnow. Not sure I love that but whatever. Pencil glasnow in as 1

    • BK

      That would be an enormous overpay for one year of an excellent pitcher who has topped out at 120 innings and cost $25M.

      • BK

        It just doesn’t make sense to trade a starter that was effective and has already covered more innings in a pro season for one year of a pitcher. If that’s the asking price, the Reds should pass.

      • Josh

        the thing is, the reds have not had a really effective starter since Gray and Castillo left, and giving up a guy that has potential like Williamson could be our only way to get an experienced ace like Shane Bieber or Tyler Glasnow, who the reds most likely need to get over the hump and into the playoffs.

    • Old Big Ed

      Correct. But Cease won’t be 3 times better, so why acquire him?

  9. Tom

    The two moves the Reds made this week were awesome from my perspective. Hardly an overpay if they both play to their trajectory. Very little risk. High upside in stuffing depth away. Both can eat innings. They added 160 some odd innings of 3.50 era ball. Spared some stress on the other arms. Didn’t have to lose a single prospect. Let’s go.

    • Optimist

      Agree – I’ve been looking at the 40 pitchers used last season, and if these 2 can replace the innings of the worst 10-15 of last year’s staff, the Reds improve several to many games. Another way to look at it is they’ve built a very substantial floor to the pitching staff – I still think they need a good starter to raise the ceiling, but this should eliminate the heavy AAAA usage and emergency callups. If they can re-sign Ben Lively, and he’s the last arm to appear on the 26-man, they’ve done very well.

    • Patrick

      These moves are poor imo yes they likely improve the pitching, but you have to look at opportunity cost. For the same 21M per year you could have a real starting pitcher plus maybe a few more million which the Reds clearly can afford to spend,

      Depending on the young starters is just foolish most are not ready or even that good.
      lots of injuries and ineffectiveness last year, expect that to continue. Injuries have become the norm for all of mlb so expect two of top 5 to miss significant time next year.

      The FIP for the Reds young starters were not good last year.
      Greene 4,25
      Ashcraft 5.06
      Lodolo 5.79
      Abbott 4.20
      Williamson 4.63
      Phillips 5.92
      Stroud 5.09
      Richardson 9.20

      • Tom

        I agree about our young starters, who leave something to be desired when viewed with realistic eyes. However, getting a starter that can throw 150 innings at 3.50 era for 1 year 20 million, or even 2 years 40 million probably isn’t going to happen. So I like the deals. The opportunity cost is actually really good.

      • BK

        If these are the only moves the Reds make then I will agree. These are moves made in the first month of the offseason. I would like to see the Reds add two more pitchers.

        As to you post above, Pagan’s value is what the Reds paid. Nearly every pitcher signed thus far has signed for more than projected. As additional revenues work into MLB free agent prices are inflated. As large market teams leverage their extreme revenue advantage, free agent prices are inflated. MLB is not a free market.

      • jon

        I think the team is going to spend that kind of money for another starter. Can’t have enough pitching.

      • Andrew

        What “real” SP you gonna get for $21m?? It doesn’t exist. Someone worth $21m is gonna get 5-6 years, not a year at $21m. But Patrick apparently is an insider and “knows the market”

  10. Marty

    I can remember when pitchers rarely hit 100 mph and often pitched the full 9 innings. Now every team has several guys who throw 100+, but that’s a ton of wear and tear on arms and shoulders and the injury reports definitely reflect it. As long as you have guys throwing 100+ every time they step on the rubber you’re going to need a bunch of them. Seems to me pitching these days is little more than a war of attrition as it is a game of keep away..

  11. Steve K

    One other option you forgot: one of the young starters is packed in a trade for Bieber or Glasnow. I think that makes sense, too.

  12. MK

    With Pagan’s and Martinez’s contract amounts, there is going to be some unrest among the returning relief pitchers for some additional money.