Rockies sign relievers Jason Motte, Chad Qualls

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Looking to add some veteran bullpen arms in another rebuilding season, the Rockies have signed free agent relievers Jason Motte and Chad Qualls to a pair of two-year contracts.

Qualls was reasonably effective for the Astros in 2015, throwing 49 innings with a 4.38 ERA and 46/9 K/BB ratio, but the 36-year-old right-hander struggled down the stretch and was left off the team’s playoff roster. His velocity has declined with age, but Qualls still pounds the strike zone and generates lots of ground balls. Houston made him a free agent by declining a $3.5 million option and Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post says his new two-year deal is worth $6 million.

Motte led the league with 42 saves for the Cardinals in 2012, but his career was derailed by injuries. He missed all of 2013 and most of 2014 before returning last season in a middle relief role for the Cubs, posting a 3.91 ERA and 34/11 K/BB ratio in 48 innings. Motte’s secondary numbers since returning in mid-2014 look nothing like his previous strong work, but his fastball still sits in the mid-90s. Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that Motte’s two-year deal is worth $10 million.

It’s unclear why the Rockies of all teams felt the need to make multi-year commitments to 37-year-old and 34-year-old relievers without much upside, but price-wise $4-$6 million per season seems to be more or less the going rate for any kind of serviceable veterans.

Report: Martinez, Nationals agree to contract extension

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WASHINGTON — Manager Dave Martinez and the Washington Nationals have agreed to work out a contract extension that will keep him in charge of the club beyond next season, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.

The person confirmed the news to The Associated Press on Friday on condition of anonymity because no official announcement had been made.

Martinez led the Nationals to the franchise’s first World Series championship in 2019, his second season as the team’s skipper.

When he initially was hired, Martinez signed a three-year deal with a club option for 2021 that had not yet been picked up by the Nationals.

After a title defense slowed by injuries and inconsistency during a 60-game season delayed and shortened by the coronavirus pandemic, Washington was 23-34 and last in the NL East before facing the New York Mets on Friday night.

It’s the second game of a season-ending four-game series at Nationals Park.

Martinez was sporting his World Series ring on his right hand when he spoke to reporters via a video chat before word emerged Friday afternoon of a change to his contract.

“The coaching staff and myself decided to wear it for the last week of the season, so we’ve been wearing it this whole week. It’s kind of cool,” Martinez said about his ring. “Come Sunday, it goes off and goes back in its little shiny box. But it’s kind of nice to look down and look at it.”

Asked earlier in the week whether he would like his up-in-the-air contract status resolved before the season ends, Martinez said his agent and Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo had been discussing the matter.

“I love it here. I don’t see myself going anywhere else,” Martinez said then. “I appreciate the family. I appreciate this organization. We’ve built a special relationship here, so I hope I get a chance to stay for many, many years.”

Then he paused for five seconds before adding: “The sooner, the better, though.”