5 things to know about new Braves reliever Chris Martin

Braves acquire reliever Chris Martin, trade Kolby Allard

Martin, 33, was acquired in exchange for lefty Kolby Allard. The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal was first to report the trade.

“I’m excited about the transaction,” Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos said. “We feel strongly that Chris will be able to help the back end of our bullpen.

“We felt with Chris, we know he’s not as well known as the other (relievers available), with longer track records and careers, but we felt he had as much upside as anybody in the trade market in terms of a late-inning arm.”

The Braves had been scouring the market for bullpen help. They’d been eyeing Martin for a while and pushed to complete the deal Tuesday rather than taking it to the deadline. 

Braves transactions

Anthopoulos realized there was a chance to reach an agreement late Tuesday afternoon. The Braves and Rangers discussed the deal through the evening and finalized the deal.

In exchange for their bullpen aid, the Braves parted with Allard, whom the team selected 14th overall in 2015. After making his major-league debut last season, Allard has spent the season in Triple-A.

Standing at 6-foot-8, 215 pounds, Martin has pitched the last two seasons with the Rangers after spending 2016-17 in Japan. He’s also played for Colorado and New York.

Texas Rangers pitcher Chris Martin celebrates a win on July 26, 2019, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
Photo: Ben Margot/AP

Martin owns a 3.08 ERA in 38 games this season (38 innings). His 43:4 strikeout-to-walk ratio is among MLB’s best.

Since allowing three runs on May 24, Martin has allowed three runs in 18-2/3 innings. He’s struck out 24 and walked one — a single hitter — in that span while holding opponents to a .212 average.

Martin is regarded as a control artist, a veteran who lives in the zone. He fit the profile the Braves were seeking to upgrade a bullpen that’s struggled to consistently throw strikes.

Manager Brian Snitker will determine Martin’s role, but Anthopoulos noted past closer experience and envisions Martin becoming a key piece in the later innings.

“He’s had some chances to close games for the Rangers,” Anthopoulos said. “His numbers speak for themselves. Strike-thrower. Very good stuff, good velocity. He’s someone we think can really emerge for us in the back of the bullpen.”

Martin will be a free agent following the season due to special circumstances in his negotiated contract since returning from Japan. 

 

For Allard, it ends a disappointing Braves tenure but renews hope in a fresh environment. The 21-year-old appeared in three games a season ago, allowing 11 earned runs in eight innings. Despite being ranked as a top 10-to-12 organizational prospect entering the year, his value had tanked.

As such, Allard fell behind a logjam of young arms and should have a better opportunity in Texas. While Allard’s preseason prospect rankings may reflect an expensive cost for a rental, his true value didn’t align with those reviews.

The trade deadline is Wednesday afternoon at 4 p.m. The Braves are trying to further bolster their pitching, and perhaps offense, before time expires.

“It’s hard to predict,” Anthopoulos said. “All anybody will tell you is everyone is having a lot of conversations right now. One phone call, one text, things can change. We’re looking to make the team better like everyone else.”

Kolby Kenneth Allard was born Aug. 13, 1997 in Anaheim, Calif. The Braves drafted Allard in the first round of the 2015 draft (14th overall). He attended San Clemente (Calif.) HS. Other 2015 first-round picks include Dansby Swanson (No. 1 by Arizona) and Mike Soroka (No. 28 by the Braves). In 2017 at Double-A Mississippi, Allard was 8-11 with a 3.18 ERA. Allard was a non-roster invitee to Braves spring training in 2018.

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