Free agent right-hander Nick Martinez has signed a $1.8 million deal with the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters of Nippon Professional Baseball, per a report from FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The righty was non-tendered by the Rangers last month and reportedly elected to sign with the Fighters over “multiple major-league offers.”
Martinez, 27, operated as a swingman for the Rangers in 2017, rounding out his season with 3-8 record in 18 starts and a combined 5.69 ERA, 2.3 BB/9 and 5.4 SO/9 in 111 1/3 innings as both a starter and reliever for the club. While he made it through the season without injury, he underwent sports hernia surgery in November and is expected to be ready to take the mound again by spring.
News of the signing broke just one day after the Rangers and Fighters announced a new long-term partnership. Reports from the Associated Press and MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan indicate that the teams will send personnel to observe each other’s ballparks, share scouting reports and receive input on their player development operations.
“This agreement will allow us to share baseball information and instruction techniques that should be very beneficial to both organizations,” Rangers GM Jon Daniels told reporters Friday. “There is also common ground in the fact that both franchises are in the process of building new ballparks. We look forward to working with the Hokkaido group in what will be a very productive partnership.”
ESPN’s Keith Law has released his annual top-100 prospects list. According to Law, Braves outfielder Ronald Acuna is the number one prospect in baseball.
After blazing through High-A and Double-A ball last season, Acuna was the youngest player in Triple-A in 2017. He was 19 years-old all season long and put up a fantastic line of .335/.384/.534 in 486 plate appearances at Double and Triple-A. He then went on to star in the Arizona Fall League, leading that circuit in homers. Law, who is not one to throw hyperbolic comps around, says, “if Acuna stays in center and maxes out his power, he’s going to be among the best players in baseball, with a Mike Trout-ish profile.”
Acuna, who is 20 now, is likely play the bulk of the season in Atlanta, even if he’s kept down at Triple-A for the first couple of weeks of the season to manipulate his service time, er, I mean to allow him to develop his skills more fully. Or something. Given the presence of reigning Gold Glove center fielder Ender Inciarte, Acuna is not likely to man center for the Braves this year, but Law says he’d be a plus right field defender, which could make the Braves outfield Death to Flying Things in 2018. At least when Nick Markakis is not playing.
Number two on the list: Blue Jays third base prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr. As law notes, the name may be familiar but he’s not very much like his old man. Mostly because young Vlad can take a walk. Which is better, even if it’s nowhere near as fun as swinging at balls that bounce in the dirt first.
For the other 98, you’ll have to click through.